Light booze habit can boost cancer risk

It's a common habit -- one shared by hundreds of millions of people around the world, and most never stop to think twice about it.

It's a light to moderate drinking habit.

Most people believe a drink or even two a day couldn't possibly be a bad habit, and even some doctors will tell you it's OK.

But any amount of alcohol comes with risk, and new research shows that even a very light booze habit -- a single drink per night, and no more -- can increase your risk of the deadliest form of skin cancer.

You may not realize it, but when you sip that drink your body coverts the ethanol in your booze into acetaldehyde in your body. Acetaldehyde, in turn, makes your skin more sensitive and more susceptible to damage from UV light, according to the study in the British Journal of Dermatology.

As a result, a single drink a night can increase your risk of skin cancer by a fifth -- and your risk climbs with every drink after that.

Moderate drinking, two or three beers per night, for example, can increase your risk of melanoma -- the less common, but far more deadly form of the disease -- by 55 percent, according to the analysis of 16 studies.

While it may be possible that some of the damage comes from people drinking while out under the sun, I don't think it explains all the risk -- especially when you consider that booze is already known to cause at least seven other types of cancer, including oral cancers, colorectal cancers, liver cancer and breast cancer.

One study I told you about last year found that booze -- even moderate booze -- is that main reason behind at least 15 percent of all breast cancer deaths.

When you consider that even a moderate drinking habit can increase the risk of everything from liver injury to brain diseases (including dementia) it's clear that the only completely safe amount of alcohol is none at all.

That said, I know many people are going to drink anyway -- so with that in mind, set some limits. Don't drink daily. Don't even drink weekly if you can help it.

Instead, limit yourself to a drink or two on special occasions such as holidays and celebrations.

When you have it less, you'll enjoy it more.