Alcohol has a link with an increased risk of certain types of cancers. No matter what form you are considering that may be wine, beer, or liquor. Alcohol drinking can increase the risk of liver cancer, esophageal cancer, colorectal cancer, breast cancer, head, and neck cancer more commonly in the mouth cavity, larynx (voice box), and pharynx (throat).
The risk of the mentioned cancers is increasing with a prolonged alcohol drinking habit. Chronic alcohol drinkers have a higher risk of the larynx, esophageal, and oral cavity cancers because these organs have direct contact with alcohol during drinking.
Why alcohol increases cancer risk?
Medical researchers have jotted down the following possibilities that can increase the cancer risk because of alcohol drinking habits:
Ethanol and acetaldehyde are two chemicals present in alcohol. The reason for adding acetaldehyde to alcoholic beverages is to make the alcohol digestible in the body. However, both of these chemicals can damage the DNA of healthy cells.
Alcoholic content may interfere with estrogen hormone and enhance the estrogen level in the blood. Increase estrogen in the blood increases the risk of breast, ovarian and uterine cancers. This is a concern for premenopausal women and women who are under menopausal hormone therapy.
Alcohol drinking habits may reduce the body’s metabolic and absorption ability of the essential nutrients, like vitamin A, C, D, E, folate, carotenoids, etc. These nutrients are taking a vital role in body defense mechanisms.
Drinking alcohol causes weight gain that can also increase cancer risk.
Tips for alcohol users
There is no confirmed cancer preventive measure illustrated yet. However, the following are some tips to reduce alcohol-related cancer risk:
Control your alcohol drinking habit. Female drinkers must restrict their drinking habits by taking 1 drink per day. However, women who have a higher risk to develop breast cancer require more alcohol drinking restrictions by limiting 3 to 4 drinks per week. For male drinkers, not more than 2 drinks are permitted.
The amount of per drink must be in the following measurements:
Beer: 341 ml or 12 oz per drink
Wine: 142 ml or 5oz per drink
80-proof liquor: 43ml or 1.5oz
For women, drinking 4 or more drinks in a short period is considered heavy drinking. However, 5 or more drinks are considered a heavy drinking habit for men. The occasional binge drink even may increase certain cancer risks.
Some of us may have a misconception that red wine does not increase cancer risk.
There is no trial-based research conformed that red wine prevents cancer. Therefore, it is always better to consider the limitation for red wine also.
The risk of cancers, particularly oral, pharynx, larynx, and esophagus is higher with a combination of both alcohol and tobacco products. Therefore, individuals should avoid using both alcohol and tobacco products.
Leafy, green vegetables, fruit, and dried beans, and peas are some organic sources of folate. Eating sufficient folate may reduce cancer risk. Therefore, add fruits and vegetables as much as possible to your diet.
Women who are under menopausal hormone therapy should avoid alcohol during the treatment period to reduce the risk of certain cancers like breast cancer.
Consult your doctor and discuss your drinking habit. He will direct you to necessity or liming your current drinking habit.
Cancer patients must have a consultation with the medical team regarding their alcohol drinking habits. Alcohol may worsen treatment-related dry mouth or mouth sores side effects. The combination of alcohol with cancer treatment often causes dehydration.
Cancer recurrence risk with alcohol
Moderate alcohol use does not increase the breast cancer recurrence risk. Moderate alcohol drink not even interferes with the survival rate of breast cancer patients. However, no detailed reference has been found to support that alcohol drinking and other types of cancer recurrence risk or survival interference.
Moderate to heavy drinking habits of head and neck cancer survival patients creases the risk of recurrence.
Cancer survivors need to consult with their doctor about how much alcohol is safe for their health.