Does Alcohol Consumption Increase The Risk Of Developing Cancer?


It is common knowledge that alcohol consumption harms health and can cause several health problems like hypertension, diabetes, epilepsy, insomnia, jaundice, kidney problems, migraines and ulcers. It has also been now found that alcohol could increase your risk of developing cancer.

Types of Cancer Related to Alcohol Consumption

Regular consumption of alcohol increases the risk of mouth cancer, throat cancer, breast cancer, bowel cancer, liver cancer, colon cancer and laryngeal cancer. Many breast cancer cases in women have been related to moderate alcohol consumption.

The research findings based on existing data regarding cancer deaths have led to the conclusion that one out of every thirty cancer deaths in the United States was due to alcohol. This research was published recently in the American Journal of Public Health. Researchers also emphasized that the quantity or type of alcohol did not matter. 

Even moderate drinkers developed cancer; even beer drinkers did.

Reducing alcohol consumption is beneficial for everyone, especially those who are already at risk of cancer. It is not necessary that you will not get cancer if you don’t drink at all or that everyone who drinks will suffer from cancer, but alcohol does cause some kind of cancer.

How Alcohol Increases the Risk of Cancer

It is impossible to pinpoint precisely how alcohol increases cancer risk. Alcohol damages the tissues in the body, and when these damaged cells undergo the process of self-repair, some changes in the DNA structure of these cells could be the beginning of cancer. For example, we know that alcohol causes inflammation of the liver and similarly, when liver cells try self-repair, the DNA gets altered and could cause liver cancer.

Drinking and smoking together is a definite recipe for cancer. The combination of tobacco and alcohol is very dangerous for the cells in our bodies. The cancer-causing chemicals in tobacco are absorbed quickly by the mouth and throat when alcohol acts as a solvent, helping the harmful chemicals in tobacco penetrate the lining of the digestive tract.

Alcohol also affects the ability of the body to absorb folate from foods, a vitamin that the body needs to stay healthy. 

Low folate levels are a possible reason for cancer. Other nutrients that cannot be absorbed well by the body because of alcohol are vitamin A, carotenoids, vitamin B complex, vitamin D and vitamin E. Poor nutrition is also linked to cancer.

Alcohol also raises the level of estrogen in the body. Estrogen is essential for breast tissue growth. This could enhance the risk of breast cancer.

The ethanol in alcoholic drinks breaks down to acetaldehyde during the metabolic process. Acetaldehyde is a toxic chemical and causes cancer. Alcohol also damages proteins and lipids through oxidation.

 Giving up Alcohol Helps

Though it is widely believed and accepted that moderate drinking has some sound effects on your health, it is not so in reality. Even moderate drinkers risk developing cancer because alcohol is a carcinogen. So if you belong to the cancer-prone category and enjoy your daily drink, you should consider giving it up.

Cancer risk does not immediately decrease if you give up drinking. Compared to a non-drinker, a person who has been drinking and given up alcohol is still at risk of developing cancer, and the risk might begin to decrease after at least ten years. Still, giving up alcohol is always better than continuing drinking in even moderate quantities. This could help you stay safe.


July 2024