Can Alcohol Cause Cancer?
Alcohol regardless of how much one drinks or how frequent their drinking habit is, alcohol can increase ones chances of developing cancer, and undoubtedly less alcohol means lesser risk of cancer.
It is not true that if one drinks alcohol once will mean the person will get cancer, but scientists instead have found that people drinking alcohol at a very high rate are at risk of having cancer. Also, it should be mentioned that both drinking and smoking is another common habit of people, which I must say is even worse. This is because when a person smokes after drinking they make one’s mouth absorb more chemicals than drinking only. On average it has been found that 4% of cancers in the UK are due to alcohol.
There is no safe limit as to drinking alcohol to avoid developing cancer, as whether you drink alcohol in one go or bit by bit, it is all the same. Alcohol generally effects mouth, upper throat, larynx, esophagus, breast in women, liver and bowel. Alcohol has a weaker effect on breast than the head or throat, but since a lot of women drink alcohol regularly in the west, breast cancer is the most common cancer there, and the UK itself has seen 3200 cases of breast cancer per year due to alcohol.
How Does Alcohol Cause Cancer?
The International Agency for Research on Cancer has found that alcohol is converted to acetaldehyde in our liver, which in-turn cause abnormal cell growth in liver. It damages the DNA structures of our cell and impairs the ability of the cell to repair itself. This abnormal cell growth affects the genes in our system causing cancer. Well, there are a lot of other cells that can also convert ethanol to acetaldehyde and some bacteria present in our mouth that can do the same. Alcohol and cancer are like two sides of a coin, they follow each other at every point in our body wherever the alcohol goes.
A study was made on light drinking of alcohol and cancer being the result or not. A meta-analysis was made through epidemiological studies using PubMed, ISI web of science and EMBASE. It was found that among 92000 subjects who consumes light amount of alcohol and 60000 subjects who were non-drinkers, 5000 deaths were due to oropharyngeal cancer, 24000 from Esophageal SSC and 5000 from breast cancer. All were attributed to light drinking habits. The study concluded that light drinking increased the risk of oral cavity cancer, esophageal cancer, pharynx cancer and female breast cancer. So there was no association of alcohol found with bowel cancer, liver cancer and laryngeal cancer in case of light drinking.
In 2011, the UK recorded 4100 deaths due to alcohol causing cancer and 11 people dying everyday due to alcohol and cancer. One should find fascinating to know that there is no type of alcohol that is good or bad. Some people might say that drinks that contain less alcohol are better than those containing more alcohol. This idea is totally wrong as any kind of alcohol, be it beer or wine or whisky, can all put us into great long time health risks. But one can cut down alcohol and reduce the risk of developing cancer. Heavy amount of alcohol consumption causes heart diseases, stroke, high blood pressure and many more health problems. It is recommended to eat well and exercise along with cutting down alcohol, which helps you stay healthy. Learn more about the side effects of drinking alcohol here!
It is also very evident that alcohol can increase the level of other hormones in our body such as estrogen, testosterone and insulin. For example, breast cancer in women happens due to high levels of estrogen.
A recent study was conducted to assess the risk of breast cancer due to alcohol consumption and also to evaluate if dietary and non-dietary factors are associated with this. Six studies of at least 200 breast cancers each were analyzed. This study included 322647 women who had breast cancers and 4335 women who were being diagnosed. The result was very obvious. For alcohol intake up to 60 g/d, the risk of developing breast cancer increased linearly with increasing intake. The data suggested that with intake of at least 60 g/d were not associated with any further increase of risk. The result firmly concluded that alcohol and cancer was not associated with any other outside factors. It is very important to reduce or cut off the consumption of alcohol at regular basis for women to reduce the risk of breast cancer.
There are 1.3 Million women in the UK who shows risk of breast cancer. It is very important to keep track of how much you are drinking. Knowing the strength of your alcohol is very important. Try reducing your regular drinking habit if you’re looking to reduce your risks to cancer. Learn some methods to cut down your alcohol intake here!
Light alcohol drinking & cancer: a meta-analysis – Annals of Oncology Journal – 2012 – by V. Bagnardi, M. Rota, E. Botteri
Alcohol and Breast Cancer in Women – Journal of the American Medical Association – 1998 – by Stephanie A. Smith-Warner, PhD; Donna Spiegelman, ScD; Shiaw-Shyuan Yaun