Alcohol is fun, which is why more than half of the United States population aged 18 and older reports having consumed at least one alcoholic drink in the last month. However, a recent opinion piece penned by Jennie Connor, a preventive and social medicine expert at Otago University in New Zealand, has once again suggested what we’ve heard many times before: Alcohol is dangerous, no matter the amount.

For the opinion piece, which was published Thursday in the journal Addiction, Connor looked at about 10 years’ worth of research from several cancer organizations in order to review possible links between cancer and alcohol consumption. In doing so, Connor explained that alcohol is the direct cause of many cancers throughout the body — not just body parts it comes into direct contact with. In addition, Connor explained that about 6 percent of all cancer deaths worldwide can be linked to alcohol, and this remains true even among people who drink light to moderate amounts.

The debate between the health benefits and consequences of alcohol consumption is an age-old battle. For example, while it's quite clear that heavy drinking is detrimental to one's health and can lead to certain cancers such as liver and esophageal cancer, it’s far less clear what happens to those who drink light to moderate amounts of alcohol, according to Ars Technica. For example, past research has suggested that moderate drinking can be healthy, but although there is a clear correlation between drinking alcohol and a longer lifespan, a 2016 review suggested that alcohol consumption may not be the cause for drinkers’ good health.

“Moderate alcohol intake is a powerful marker of a higher social level, superior general health status and lower cardiovascular risk,” said lead author Boris Hansel, . reported.

In her piece, Connor suggests that the detrimental effects of alcohol can stretch even further and writes of previously established strong links between alcohol consumption and cancer in specific areas of the body, such as the colon, female breast, prostate, pancreas, and even skin. According to Connor, even light drinkers are not immune to this cancer risk, and her review showed that while heavy drinkers have a higher risk of liver, colon and laryngeal cancer than light drinkers, all drinkers have the same risk of mouth, esophagus, breast and pharynx cancer.

“From a public health perspective, alcohol is estimated to have caused approximately half a million deaths from cancer in 2012,” wrote Connor, as reported by The Huffington Post.

Although Connor points to strong evidence for a link between alcohol consumption and certain cancers, it's still not entirely clear how or why alcohol causes cancer. Unlike smoking, which is clearly linked to certain cancers, alcohol’s role in causing cancer is more complex, so it may be more difficult for the general public to accept that drinking, even in small amounts, may be unhealthy. Still, Connor emphasizes that a population-wide reduction in alcohol consumption that targets light, moderate, and heavy drinkers could have a significant effect on the incidence of cancer.

It may not be necessary to give up alcohol for the rest of your life; Connor also suggests that simply reducing your overall consumption could be enough to help reduce your cancer risk.

Source: Connor J. Alcohol consumption as a cause of cancer. Addiction . 2016