Alcohol: Is it really good for you?

Alcohol is bad for you. Red wine is good for the heart. It's all about moderation… Confused? You're not alone.

Government guidelines state that men and women should not consume more than 21 or 14 alcoholic drinks each week. Yet the Million Women study reported that just one drink a week increases your risk of breast, pharynx and liver cancer.

No wonder a recent UK survey for the World Cancer Research Fund found that people are deeply sceptical about claims for what causes or prevents cancer. In exploring the alcohol-cancer connection, Radio 4's Frontiers reveals a frightening lack of knowledge about how alcohol interacts with the body.

Toxic compounds

Scientists do not know definitively why we get hangovers or how alcohol may be causing cancer. Alcohol is metabolised in the body into toxic compounds - but how these compounds cause damage is unknown. Since genetics, gender and age play an important role in how we interact with alcohol, a safe amount for one is not safe for another.

The negative effects of alcohol on health and the economy are reported regularly in the media and highlighted by the government. But despite the link between alcohol and cancer being known for over 100 years, it is an area of research that is little understood and, according to many scientists, underfunded.

Source - BBC