|I can buy that Malort gives you cancer at least (Source)|
Many of the stories on the article focus particularly on the quote that "there is no safe threshold" for alcohol consumption, and that roughly a third of these deaths represented individuals who consumed less than 1.5 drinks per day. Essentially, as many as 7,000 people in the U.S. who drank that amount per day die from cancer each year that they developed because of that consumption. I'm not really interested in poring through the data to question the validity of this number. It's fair to be very skeptical of how granular you can be in determining the risks for each individual based on an average obtained from surveys known to be quite limited, and ecological data like sales. Ultimately, without longitudinal follow-up of drinkers or a case-control study, this represents a fairly low level of evidence on the grand scheme of things. That's not to say to take the general conclusion with a grain of salt. Quite the contrary, actually. It's just that we can't safely interpret exactly how strong (or weak) this effect really is at this point, and need more robust study designs to get there.
Science-minded people like to blame the media for hyping up conclusions of studies, but here you see the investigators explicitly saying that there is no safe amount of drinking. The abstract itself declares alcohol to be a "major contributor to cancer mortality." What message is a journalist supposed to take from that? The headlines are right there, laid out on a platter for them. I don't think that the investigators necessarily egregiously overstated the conclusions, but it wasn't exactly brimming with context. Also, I don't really expect moderate drinkers to really alter their behavior based on this, but it sort of goes without saying that the proper conclusion wouldn't really grab as much attention, and you never know how things will be absorbed. So I'll try and lay one out myself:
Based upon this study, it appears that the the risk of death due to drinking has been underestimated. Even moderate drinking, which has some potential health benefits, may contribute to mortality from one of seven types of cancers largely understood to be associated with alcohol consumption. This is the first look at such an association in the United States in over 30 years, and as such, represents a building block from which to generate research ideas that more effectively establish this association and how different consumption patterns alter its effect.
Now if you'll excuse me, I'm going to the liquor store to buy some rye and a shaker. For real.