Alcoholism and Cancer Risk

Alcoholism and Cancer Risk

Did you know there is strong scientific consensus that drinking alcohol can cause several types of cancer? It’s true. The risk for cancers of the mouth, throat, voice box, esophagus, liver, breast, colon and rectum are higher for people who consume alcohol. 

The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) reports that our bodies break down alcohol by converting ethanol to a toxic chemical called acetaldehyde. And it’s a chemical known to damage our DNA. Alcohol consumption does this by generating free radicals – unstable atoms that can damage cells, causing illness and aging. Alcohol also impairs the body’s ability to break down and absorb nutrients, while increasing the level of estrogen in our blood. In addition, alcoholic beverages themselves may contain a variety of carcinogenic contaminants that are introduced during fermentation and production, such as nitrosamines, asbestos fibers, phenols, and hydrocarbons

The more alcohol a person drinks, particularly the more alcohol a person drinks regularly over time, the higher the risk of developing an alcohol-associated cancer. Even those who have no more than one drink per day and binge drinkers (those who consume 4 or more drinks for women and 5 or more drinks for men in one sitting) there is an increased risk of some cancers. For people who use both alcohol and tobacco, the risk of  developing cancers of the oral cavity, pharynx, larynx, and esophagus is much higher than people who use either alcohol or tobacco alone.

Healthwise, it’s best not to drink alcohol. People who choose to drink should limit their intake to no more than 2 alcoholic drinks per day for men and 1 drink a day for women. 

Alcohol use is one of the most important preventable risk factors for cancer. If  you or someone you love needs treatment, call us at (562) 906-267.

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