Japanese scientists compared the drinking habits of 63,232 cancer patients in Japan with those of an equal number of healthy controls. They found that drinking the equivalent of 6 ounces of wine, 17 ounces of beer or 2 ounces of whiskey a day for 10 years increased the relative risk of cancer by 5%. After two drinks a day for 40 years, the relative risk of having any cancer increased by 54% compared with a nondrinker. The associations were particularly strong for cancers of the mouth, throat, stomach and colon.

The study, in the journal Cancer, has limitations. The history data was collected by self-reports and the researchers were unable to control for family history of cancer, diet or physical activity. "One drink a day is probably not a big problem," said the lead author, Dr. Masayoshi Zaitsu of the University of Tokyo. "But drinking too much over long periods of time might be dangerous."

Boys born small may be at higher risk for infertility

Boys born small may be at risk for infertility in adulthood. Danish researchers examined birth and health records of 10,936 men and women born between 1984-87. The study, in Human Reproduction, found that 10% of the babies were born small for gestational age. The health and behavioral characteristics of the mothers of low-birth-weight babies were similar to those of mothers of babies of normal weight.

The scientists found that male babies who were born small were 55% more likely than their normal weight peers to be infertile as adults.

The mechanisms underlying the association remain unknown, said the lead author, Anne Thorsted, a researcher at Aarhus University in Denmark when the study was done: "Not all men born small for gestational age are at increased risk."

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