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New alcohol guidelines: How is drinking linked to cancer?


(NaturalNews) In an effort to address ongoing good health practices, which includes keeping various cancers at bay, the UK's Chief Medical Officer (CMO) recently came forward with updated alcohol consumption guidelines. This wasn't just any update that changes with the wind either; the last time they were updated was in 1995, making many people interested in the new changes and recommendations.(1)

The recent guidelines stress that alcohol consumption – even in small amounts – may play a role in developing a range of cancers including mouth, breast and throat cancer. The essential takeaway, according to the new guidelines, is that the less a person drinks alcohol, the more they reduce their risk of developing such health problems. Of course, lifestyle factors such as eating a junk food diet, smoking, or living in harsh environmental conditions, also play a role. Therefore, this isn't to say alcohol alone is an isolating factor behind a person potentially getting a cancer diagnosis. Still, it's thought that less of it can't hurt.(1)

But how is it possible to monitor what kinds of alcohol are consumed, and with what frequency? It's virtually impossible, since every individual's drinking preference varies, as does the quantity they have. Some people have a drink daily. Others reserve drinking for weekends only. The fluctuations of one's drinking habits acted as an impetus behind one of the updated guidelines: whereas the 1995 standards set daily alcohol consumption suggestions, the updated one focuses on what a person consumes on a weekly basis.(1)

And the amount of alcohol a person should limit themselves to is ...

That being said, just how much does the CMO suggest? To stay as healthy as possible, people are advised to have no more than 14 units of alcohol every week. It's important to note that this isn't a goal to meet, but an amount that should serve as a limit. In simpler terms, one unit is the equivalent of 2 milliliters (approximately 0.0676 fluid ounces) of pure alcohol. To put that in a better perspective, a bottle of wine comes in at just under 10 units, a small glass of wine at just under 2.5 units, and a pint of ordinary strength beer delivers about two units.(1)

Another significant change is that this recommendation doesn't distinguish between the amount men and women should have. Under the new guidelines, both genders should stick to the aforementioned weekly recommendation. However, it is noted that each gender may face differing experiences upon alcohol consumption. Men, for example, are more likely to experience immediate drinking-related injuries, while women have a higher risk of long-term injury and premature death.(1)

The alcohol-cancer connection

When it comes to cancer – which the new guidelines tend to focus on a great deal – the link between alcohol consumption and certain cancers is made astutely clear. As previously mentioned, keeping weekly drinks to a minimum is an ideal way to keep cancers away. Indeed, a bevy of information seems to support this idea, including information from Cancer Research UK which explains the detrimental health effects of alcohol.

"Alcohol increases the risk of cancers of the mouth, pharynx (upper throat), larynx (voice box) and oesophagus (gullet or foodpipe). The more alcohol someone tends to drink, the higher the risk," the Cancer Research UK site explains. It also notes that, "Regularly drinking even small amounts of alcohol can increase the risk of breast cancer. ... the risk increases the more a woman drinks, several studies have found that each additional 10g of alcohol drunk a day increases the risk of breast cancer by about 7 - 12%."(2)

Additionally, liver and bowel cancers may also develop with too much alcohol consumption.(2)

Are more people shunning alcohol?

While many people may shake their heads over these updated guidelines, pointing to stories of people who attribute their drinking habits to their longevity, or studies that say wine (it can be, but again, moderation is key), it's wise to take the new advice seriously.

In fact, many people are easing up on their drinking habits.

It's not uncommon for individuals to declare they'd rather have a cup of soothing tea or that they've simply had enough of all the hangovers. Others even participate in something called "Dry January," in which they don't have any alcohol whatsoever for the entire month – and reap the rewards of clearer skin, improved sleep quality and even necessary weight loss as a result.(3)

Sources for this article include:

(1) Independent.co.uk

(2) CancerResearchUK.org[PDF]

(3) DryJanuary.org.uk

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