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Member Research & Reports

Member Research & Reports

BU: Alcohol Is ‘No Ordinary Health Risk Factor’

Alcohol is the only carcinogen that is promoted for its possible health benefits — an unusual distinction that has scientists willing to recommend its use and to allow the alcohol industry to support their research, a Boston University School of Public Health (BUSPH) professor says in the journal Addiction.

In a commentary on a British study, Dr. Richard Saitz, chair of community health sciences and professor of medicine at the Boston University School of Medicine, writes that while the health risks of alcohol, including at low amounts, have been confirmed in numerous studies, “alcohol is no ordinary risk factor. Many, even health professionals, discuss its inclusion as a nutritional component and its use to improve health.”

Heavy drinking can cause a range of health consequences, including cirrhosis and injuries, Dr. Saitz says. And low amounts of alcohol have been associated with health problems such as hemorrhagic stroke, birth defects, hypertension, breast cancer, and pancreatitis, “with no known, firm cut-offs associated with safety versus harm.” Alcohol is classified as a carcinogen by the International Agency for Research on Cancer, in the same category as plutonium and tobacco.

To read more about the commentary, go to: