You may not consider yourself a heavy drinker, but even a relatively small amount of alcohol seems to raise the risk of death from cancer, a study finds. Researchers found that having a drink and a half or less per day was associated with 7,000 of the 19,500 annual booze-linked cancer deaths, NBC News reports. The US sees some 577,000 cancer deaths each year, which means 3.5% of those are related to alcohol, the study notes. To put the figure in perspective, 14,000 people died from ovarian cancer in 2009; 9,000 died from melanoma that same year.
But the alcohol connection isn't a widely publicized one; indeed, this study is the first major review of the subject in three decades. Some 15% of breast cancer deaths were tied to alcohol; among men, mouth, throat and esophageal cancers were commonly tied to booze, CBC reports. In short, 'there is no safe threshold for alcohol and cancer risk," the researchers say. It's still not clear how alcohol boosts cancer, but previous studies have found it ups women's estrogen and helps tobacco chemicals enter the digestive tract, the San Francisco Chronicle reports.