Expert debunks alcohol-cancer claims

Claims by academics at an Alcohol and Cancer conference in Wellington that even moderate consumption causes cancer have been debunked by an international expert on alcohol abuse and alcoholism.

In an article on the claims, Dr Samir Zakhari said: "Unfortunately last month in Wellington a group of well-intentioned researchers made such a claim – and not for the first time. They said that moderate alcohol consumption causes cancer. While chronic abusive alcohol consumption is associated with a plethora of health problems including cancer, attributing cancer to social moderate drinking is simply incorrect and is not supported by the body of scientific literature." 

You can read his full response on the Spirts NZ website here.

The article was also published in The Dominion Post but the vital paragraph above was heavily edited and was incorrect as published.

In pointing out the incorrect paragraph, Spirits NZ says: "The tone of this is somewhat different to what was run ... as it specifically relates to a claim about the impact of moderate consumption. We do not argue that chronic consumption does not cause health problems - it does. We do argue however that moderate consumption of alcohol can be a part of a healthy lifestyle

Dr Zakhari is a researcher on the medical effects of alcohol consumption, and a former director of the Division of Metabolism and Health Effects with the American National Institute of Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (for 25 years). He is now senior vice-president of science at the Distilled Spirits Council of the US.

The conference, which was held in June, was hosted by Alcohol Action NZ and the Cancer Society.