Drinking alcohol excessively every day can put you at risk of several types of cancer
11/01/2018 // Mary Miller // Views

Everyone enjoys the occasional glass of champagne and a casual martini at a party wouldn't hurt. But there is a difference between a single cocktail and hitting the bottle to drown your sorrows. Inebriation often blurs the fine line between moderation and excess, so you had better put that third bottle back down because it turns out that excessive alcohol intake raises one's risk of certain cancers.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), all kinds of alcoholic beverages are linked with cancer, including red and white wine, beer, cocktails, and liquor. If you drink any of these, there are six kinds of cancer you increase your risk of having. These are mouth and throat cancer, cancer of the larynx or voice box, cancer of the esophagus, cancer of the colon and rectum, cancer of the liver, and in women, breast cancer. Aside from just cancer, excessive alcohol intake also increases one's risk of stroke and neurodegenerative disease.

The link between the drink and cancer

The logic is straightforward. The more you drink, the greater your risk. The less you drink, the lower your risk. But what causes this? It turns out that it is not the alcoholic drink itself that harms you and causes cancer. It is what your body metabolizes alcohol into that is the real cancer culprit. After you drink alcohol, your body breaks down the ethanol in the alcoholic drink and converts it into a toxic chemical called acetaldehyde.

Acetaldehyde is a carcinogen that causes cell DNA and protein damage while also preventing the cell's mechanisms from repairing itself. DNA controls a cell's growth and functions. But damaged DNA can cause uncontrolled cell growth that can result in the creation of a cancer tumor. Furthermore, acetaldehyde can also inhibit your body's ability to metabolize and absorb antioxidants, such as vitamins C and E, and at the same time produce harmful free radicals. These free radicals can also damage DNA, proteins, and lipids and result in oxidative stress, inflammation and cancer.


In women, acetaldehyde also increases blood levels of the sex hormone, estrogen, leading to the increased risk of breast cancer. (Related: Drinking alcohol raises breast cancer risk as much as smoking cigarettes.)

How much alcohol is too much?

Different people have varying levels of tolerance towards alcohol. Genetics and body type may play a role in this. Studies show that even one to two drinks a day can increase one's risk of developing cancer. This means that ideally, you shouldn't be drinking any alcohol at all. People who should avoid alcohol at all costs are those under the legal drinking age, pregnant women, those already with chronic health problems, and those taking medication.

If these conditions don't apply to you and you still plan on drinking alcohol anyway, then be sure to take it in moderate amounts. According to the Dietary Guidelines for Americans, the recommended limit is no more than one drink a day for women and two drinks a day for men.

Acetaldehydes also cause that nagging hangover you have after a long night of drinking, so the next time you have a hangover, you'll know you've drunk too much. Try to avoid the dreaded hangover by drinking less alcohol next time. Your body will thank you.

In general, it's best to stay sober. If you don't drink, don't start just because of any potential health benefits you may possibly gain.  The risk of developing cancer easily undermines whatever health benefits alcohol may give you.

If you want to learn more about cancer and how to prevent it, you can read more articles by going to Cancer.news.

Sources include:




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