A public health expert is calling on the National Institutes of Health to change information on one of its websites to more accurately reflect scientific findings about the risk of alcohol. In a letter sent to NIH Director Dr. Francis Collins on Thursday, alcohol researcher Dr. Michael Siegel of Boston University School of Public Health called on NIH to retract and apologize for a statement on the website of NIH’s National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism that says, “Drinking too much alcohol can increase your risk of developing certain cancers,” especially as it regards breast cancer.

“This is in direct contradiction with the scientific evidence which shows that even light to moderate drinking increases women’s risk of breast cancer,” Siegel told STAT. By implying that only “too much” drinking is a cancer risk, “the NIAAA is deceiving and potentially harming women while furthering the agenda of the alcohol industry.”

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  • It really is the end of science. The phrase “Too much drinking” came straight from the alcohol lobby. The NIH is in the pocket of the profiteers. The NIH is also promoting alternative medicine on their site. A few billionaires decided there was money to be made misleading the ignorant. The studies they posted to promote the alternative medicine industry are unscientific and misleading, yet they feature prominently and are often reprinted to sell quack cures, and promote dangerous things like Battlefield Acupuncture.

    • Mavis, there are not any definitive studies one way or the other. Epidemilogic studies and anecdotal evidence suggest that alcohol causes cancer. That is the best evidence we have so far, but its weak evidence.

      If you have any credible evidence, then please post a link.

  • One of this country’s biggest issues nobody wants to confront. The alcohol industry has relinquished responsibility from the danger of its product by focusing on impaired driving. As if that’s the only danger to be concerned with, while placing responsibility of their product on the consumer. Big alcohol is as dangerous as big Pharma and big tobacco.

  • “The cancer institute also explains, however, that more than 100 epidemiologic studies of alcohol consumption and breast cancer in women show that even low consumption raises the risk. Women who drank more than 45 grams of alcohol per day (about three drinks) had a 50 percent higher risk of developing breast cancer than nondrinkers.”

    I don’t think anyone would define 3 drinks a day (21 per week) as “low consumption.”

  • Re: Alcohol/Breast Cancer:
    There are numerous risk factors associated with breast cancer, and other cancers. However, risk does NOT mean causative. The methods used to attribute risk are statistical at best and we should consider them.
    It seems wasteful to me to spend thousands if not millions to make risk associations, when that money could be used to find the VIRUS causative for this disease. Like many others, viruses that are causative are sexually transmitted. The fewer sex partners one has in a lifetime the better. Always use protection.
    Today’s hook-up culture is a grave mistake.
    To the naysayers I say consider the following: HPV -causative for numerous genital & reproductive cancers, Ebstein-Barr appropriately named the “cancer virus” for Hodgkins and Non-Hodgkins lymphomas, Nasal cancer, certain stomach cancer, Herpes virus 8 for Kaposi’s sarcoma, Polyoma virus for Merkel cell cancers..I could continue. My point is, if all these cancers have viral cases, what makes anyone think that breast cancer is different??? Someone out there please find that virus, and please make a vaccine…and while you are at it, please make one for the entire Herpes Group. It would be a good start in stopping most if not all cancers.

  • Epidemiologic data do suggest that alcohol is a cause of cancer, and epidemiologic data also suggest that alcohol lowers the risk of heart disease. However correlation does not necessarily imply cause and effect. The epidemiologic data are the best data that we have, but these results are weak because they are not backed up by randomized controlled studies.

    People are looking for conclusive or near-conclusive results, but they do not yet exist.

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