I know this so isn’t want you want to hear going into the weekend, but I wouldn’t be doing my duty if I didn’t share it: A new study from the National Cancer Institute found that alcohol is to blame in 1 in 30 cancer deaths in the U.S. each year. Even worse, it doesn’t take much drinking to put you in the red zone: 30 percent of all alcohol-related cancer deaths were in people who drank as few as 1.5 drinks a day. And the more you drink, the higher your risk, according to the study.
Oh, wait. It gets worse for us ladies: Researchers found that the link between alcohol and the Big C is even more pronounced when it comes to breast cancer, with alcohol to blame for 15 percent of those deaths. Cancers of the mouth, throat and esophagus were the culprits for men who drink. And for all its heart benefits, “alcohol causes 10 times as many deaths as it prevents,” says study author David Neilson. Blerg.
According to the American Cancer Society, it’s not entirely clear how alcohol might raise cancer risk. Alcohol might act as a chemical irritant to sensitive cells, impeding their DNA repair, or damage cells in other ways. It might also act as a “solvent” for other carcinogens, such as those found in tobacco smoke, helping those chemicals enter into cells more easily. Or alcohol might affect levels of key hormones such as estrogen, upping odds for breast cancer.
So what’s your best bet? Cut back on the cocktails—like a lot. Maybe reserve it for special occasions, or even just weekends. And whatever you do, put your keg-stand behind you.