Drinking just one pint (568ml/75cl) approximately a bottle of beer every day raises the risk of contracting prostate cancer by 23 per cent, a study has found.
The study published in the online journal BMC Cancer warned that it means that when it comes to cancer, there is no safe threshold for drinking.
Only binge-drinking was thought to raise the risk of contracting the disease – the most common cancer for men.
But this misconception was based on flawed studies that gave men a false sense of security, the new analysis shows.
Researchers from the University of Victoria in Australia analysed 26 previous scientific studies that linked the consumption of alcohol to prostate cancer.
They found that men who drank two to three units each day – equivalent to one pint of five per cent strength beer or two 175ml glasses of wine – raised their risk of prostate cancer by 23 per cent compared to people who had never drunk alcohol.
But even as little as half a pint a week increased the likelihood of contracting the cancer, which is a huge health problem for the British National Health Service (NHS).
The research is likely to alarm men who considered themselves moderate drinkers and therefore not in danger.
Lead researcher Tim Stockwell said: “For cancer risk, the causal processes appear to be operating whenever we drink, and to a degree directly relate to how much we consume and with no safe threshold.”
The risk was underestimated for years because many previous studies put former drinkers in the same category as teetotallers. This created a false impression, because many former drinkers stop or cut down boozing as they age and their health declines