Like many people, you’ll probably like drinking a glass of wine or beer often. But beware: alcohol can increase your risk of developing certain cancers. It is true that moderate alcohol consumption appears to reduce the chances of heart disease, but according to the American Cancer Society, there is evidence that alcohol actually increases the risk for various cancers.
In 2007 a group of experts, cited by World Health Organization’s International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) reviewed the scientific evidence on the relationship between alcohol and cancer at 27 sites in the body. The result was that they found sufficient evidence that alcohol can cause mouth cancer, throat cancer, laryngeal cancer, esophageal cancer, liver cancer, colon cancer and rectal cancer. It also causes breast cancer in women, even when alcohol is consumed in small amounts.
Why alcohol increases the risk of cancer?
The reason is not fully understood since the risk can depend on various factors, including the type of cancer.
Some reasons are:
- Cancer of the mouth, throat cancer, larynx cancer and esophagealcancer.Alcohol acts as an irritant and damages the tissues of the body especially in those areas. But if you also smoke, the risk is increased, particularly in the mouth and throat. Itmay be because alcohol dissolves other elements of the body such as those found in smoke snuff, thereby contributing to more easily penetrate the cell lining of the upper digestivetract.Alcohol as well decreases the ability of cells to repair the damage caused by chemical agents. As damaged cells try to repair themselves, changes occur in the DNA, which can lead to cancer.
- Liver cancer. Regular alcohol consumption in high amounts damages the liver, causing inflammation and scarring. That in turn increases the risk of cancer.
- Cancer of the colon and rectum.Especially in men, alcohol has been linked to an increased risk of these two cancers but can also affect women.Bacteria in these areas can convert the alcohol in large amounts of acetaldehyde, a chemical known to cause cancer in laboratory animals.
- Breast Cancer.Even a few drinks a week increase the risk of breast cancer in women especially if they do not get enough foliate or folic acid (a B vitamin necessary for health). Alcohol decreases the body’s ability to absorb folic acid from food or supplements, and a low level of foliate increases the risk of developing breast cancer in women.
Moreover, alcohol also increases the levels of estrogen, a hormone important in the growth and development of the breast tissue. It can also increase the risk of breast cancer in women.
Not that you have to stop enjoying a drink from time to time but remember to do it in moderation.
Drink a little less of alcohol can be a real lifesaver for many people.Be guided by the recommendations of the American Cancer Society which suggests limiting alcohol consumption to no more than two drinks per day for men and one drink for women. The difference is that women tend to have smaller body size than men and a slower metabolism to process alcohol.
It is true that alcohol has been linked to a lower risk of heart disease, but there are other ways to reduce or prevent cardiovascular problems. Take a healthy diet low in saturated and Trans fats, do not smoke, maintain a healthy weight, exercise regularly and keep your blood glucose and blood cholesterol and your blood pressure under control. All that is within reach of your hand, and with it, you can help protect your heart.
Now another thing to consider is a holiday. How much stress is in your life? Did you know that if you take a holiday on some common form of transportation like plane or a train you will just relax more. This causes less stress and great thing if you have cancer. As your goal when you have cancer really should be as much ‘down’ time as needed to relax, getting on a lot of different transports like planes, trains, cars for road trips and just relaxing.