Alcohol Cancer Risks

The team at Comprehensive Cancer Centers is an advocate for early detection and prevention. We know the importance of taking good care of yourself is to reduce your cancer risks.

One way to start by reducing your cancer risk, is to reduce alcohol consumption. According to American Cancer Society, alcohol accounts for roughly six percent of all cancers. In fact, excessive alcohol consumption has been linked specifically to breast cancer, colon cancer, liver cancer, esophageal cancer and head and neck cancers.  It’s also a risk factor for many other cancer types.

Alcohol and Cancer

Alcohol contains ethanol. Once ingested, ethanol converts to acetaldehyde, which is a chemical that can damage cells. As the damaged cells try to repair themselves, there may be subsequent damage to a person’s DNA. Alcohol also inhibits the body’s ability to breakdown and eliminate other harmful chemicals that enter the body, such as tobacco. The American Cancer Society identifies how certain cancers react to alcohol consumption, as outlined below.

  • Alcohol Connection to Head and Neck Cancers: Drinking and smoking together raises the risk of head and neck cancers much more than just drinking or smoking alone. The consumption of alcohol breaks down cells allowing harmful chemicals in tobacco get inside the cells. Alcohol also decreased the ability for cells to repair damage to their DNA caused by the chemicals.
  • Alcohol Connection to Liver Cancer: Long-term alcohol use has been linked to an increased risk of liver cancer. Regular, heavy alcohol use can damage the cells in the liver, leading to inflammation and scarring, which is a concern for increasing the risk of liver cancer.
  • Alcohol Connection to Colon Cancer: Alcohol use has been linked with a higher risk of cancers of the colon and rectum. The evidence for this is generally stronger in men than in women, but studies have found the link in both sexes due to the damaging of cells in the intestinal tract.
  • Alcohol Connection to Breast Cancer: Drinking even small amounts of alcohol is linked with an increased risk of breast cancer in women. Alcohol can raise estrogen levels in the body, which may explain some of the increased risk.

Effects of Alcohol Consumption

From a global perspective, the World Health Organization identifies that alcohol consumption contributes to 3 million deaths each year. Overall, harmful use of alcohol is responsible for 5.1 percent of the global burden of disease. The harmful use of alcohol is a component cause of more than 200 diseases in individuals, most notably liver cirrhosis and cancers as well as links to diseases such as tuberculosis and HIV/AIDS.

Physicians at Comprehensive Cancer Centers caution the risks that come from consumption of alcohol, which includes all types of alcohol such as red and white wine, beer and cocktails.

We understand that many people consume alcohol responsibly, but we certainly encourage them to continue to look out for their health and make changes with the new year to include consuming alcohol in moderation, examining overall diet and introducing exercise.

Comprehensive Cancer Centers Can Help

Physicians at Comprehensive Cancer Centers provide a variety of treatment options for cancer including chemotherapy, radiation therapy, breast surgery and clinical research for the treatment of cancer. To schedule an appointment with the team at Comprehensive, call 702-952-3350.

The content is this post is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of qualified health providers with questions you may have regarding medical conditions.