Do You Know Excessive Alcohol Causes Cancer? See How.
Here’s How Alcohol Can Increase Your Cancer Risk
Drinking Excessive Alcohol Causes cancer, whether you drink a lot or relatively little.
In a statement published Nov. 7 in the Journal of Clinical Oncology, the group points to evidence that even light drinking can increase your risk of mouth and throat cancer, a common type of esophageal cancer, and breast cancer in women.
Moderate and heavy drinking — which includes binge drinking — increase your chances of developing not just these cancers, but several others as well.
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The relationship between alcohol and cancer is dose-dependent. This means the more you drink, the higher the risk.
So, what does this mean for your health… and your holiday plans?
The statement — which is based on previously published studies — comes at a time when people are drinking more alcohol.
During that time, the number of people who would be classified as having an alcohol use disorder increased by almost 50 percent.
Most also didn’t know that obesity and lack of exercise are risk factors, too.
The cancer risk due to alcohol is high enough that an earlier study estimated that 5 percent of all new cancer cases and 5 percent of all cancer deaths worldwide are due to alcohol.
So how much does alcohol increase your risk of cancer?
It varies with the type of cancer and how much you drink.
The ASCO researchers point to research showing that, compared to nondrinkers, the risk of cancer for heavy drinkers increases by the following amounts:
-Mouth and throat cancer: 5.13 times
-Esophageal squamous cell cancer: 4.95 times
-Voice box cancer: 2.65 times
-Liver cancer: 2.07 times
-Breast (female) cancer: 1.61 times
-Colon and rectum cancer: 1.44 times
This means that on average, heavy drinkers have more than a five fold higher risk of developing mouth and throat cancer during their lifetime than do nondrinkers.
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These numbers are known as relative risks — comparing the risk for one group to that for another.
Researchers defined light drinking as less than one drink per day, moderate as one to four drinks per day, and heavy as more than four drinks per day.
Institute of Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism defines a standard drink as 1.5 ounces of distilled spirits, 5 ounces of wine, or 12 ounces of regular beer.
Absolute risk is the chance that you’ll develop cancer over a certain time period, such as during the next 10 years.
Moderation in all things alcohol
Is this enough to justify giving up the occasional glass of spirit?
Or playing the odds and sticking with your nightly martini?
As the ASCO statement explains in detail, the cancer risks of alcohol are quite real.
But it’s not as clear-cut as cigarettes, where any amount of smoking is bad for you.
One of the authors of the ASCO statement told The New York Times 8that the best way to lower your risk of cancer is to drink less. And if you aren’t already a drinker, don’t start.
But this may not mean you have to give up alcohol completely.
Other research suggests that moderate alcohol drinking may lower your risk of heart disease.
But the research on alcohol and heart disease is mixed. There’s no guarantee of a benefit.
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What’s clear, though, is that heavy drinking carries many risks, not just of heart disease and cancer, but also depression, anxiety, alcohol use disorder, and liver disease.
People who already have other risk factors for cancer — whether it’s a family history or obesity — may not want to throw alcohol on top of this risk pile.
But if you’re otherwise healthy, the occasional alcoholic drink might not be that bad.
There are also many other ways to reduce your risk of cancer, such as quitting smoking, exercising more, and eating a healthier diet — all of which don’t carry the risks associated with alcohol.
If you’re wondering of giving up — or cutting back on alcohol might be a good New Year’s resolution for you, talk to your doctor.