The Connection Between Alcohol and Cancer
Dozens of studies have drawn a clear connection between alcohol and cancer. However, this does not mean that you are putting yourself at risk of cancer just by having a glass of red wine every once in a while. At the same time, alcohol is a recognized carcinogen, in addition to its association with various health issues like high blood pressure and heart disease. Therefore, exercising caution when consuming alcohol is key.
There is a direct correlation between the amount of alcohol and cancer risk. In other words, the more you drink, the more you increase the risk of getting some kind of cancer. Generally speaking, alcohol causes cancer when people either have a higher susceptibility to certain kinds of cancer or they struggle to control how much they drink. Either way, it is impossible to ignore the connection between heavy drinking and cancer.
So, what exactly is the connection between alcohol and cancer risk? Unfortunately, the exact reasons for many types of alcohol-related cancers are unknown. Nonetheless, there is clear evidence that alcohol causes cancer and increases the risk of cancer for millions of people. The worst part is that it is not just something that alcoholics need to worry about. In fact, federal dietary guidelines suggest that even moderate drinkers (those who have no more than one alcoholic drink per day) will still see an increase in their risk of developing cancer. However, heavy drinkers and binge drinkers are still far more likely to actually develop cancer due to alcohol consumption.
Alcohol and Breast Cancer
Though breast cancer is far more common in women, evidence shows that alcohol can increase the risk of breast cancer in both women and men. Like many types of cancer, the exact reason for this correlation is unknown. However, even light drinkers have a slightly higher risk of breast cancer than non-drinkers. It is also important to note that the type of alcohol is virtually irrelevant. Wine and breast cancer have been linked along with all other beverages containing alcohol.
Alcohol and Colon Cancer
Colon cancer (also known as colorectal cancer) is very common and, if not caught early, extremely dangerous. Genetics and diet are two of the main contributors to colon cancer. Diets that are heavy in red meat are often associated with increased risks. Additionally, alcohol consumption can increase your risk of colon cancer by as much as 1.5x compared to non-drinkers.
Alcohol and Esophageal Cancer
As previously mentioned, cancers like esophageal cancer are most often associated with smoking. Sadly, drinking can be just as dangerous in this respect, especially for those who have difficulty metabolizing alcohol. Alcohol most often leads to a specific kind of esophageal cancer known as esophageal squamous cell carcinoma, which often must be treated through surgery or chemotherapy. In any case, consuming large amounts of alcohol regularly can make you 5x more likely to develop this type of cancer.
Alcohol and Liver Cancer
It is well known that alcohol is bad for your liver. Alcohol changes the chemical makeup of the liver, making it less able to remove scar tissue. As a result, scar tissue builds up in the liver, making it harder and harder for the organ to function properly. If you continue to consume alcohol in large quantities, it could even lead to liver failure and death.
However, this is not the only way that alcohol can harm your liver. If you are a heavy drinker, you are twice as likely to develop some type of liver cancer. The two most common types are hepatocellular carcinoma and intrahepatic cholangiocarcinoma. In the event that these cancers are allowed to develop, they often require invasive surgery.
Alcohol and Oral Cancer
Oral or mouth cancer is linked with moderate to heavy drinking, particularly if it is combined with smoking. However, even if you don’t smoke, drinking alcohol can significantly increase the risk of oral cavities and cancers. Though oral cancer is relatively easy to treat when it is caught early, it can lead to issues with your vocal cords and your ability to speak if left untreated.
Alcohol and Pancreatic Cancer
Like the liver, the pancreas has to work harder when you consume large quantities of alcohol. Over time, this can lead to chronic pancreatitis and, eventually, pancreatic cancer. This is both a very painful and very dangerous form of cancer that can be difficult to treat.
Alcohol and Prostate Cancer
Prostate cancer is an especially pervasive cancer in men or those born with a prostate that can be caused by a variety of factors. Genetics and smoking are two of the most common causes. Fortunately, studies on the connection between alcohol and prostate cancer have shown no clear correlation. Even among heavy drinkers, alcohol does not seem to increase the risk of prostate cancer substantially or make the symptoms of this type of cancer worse. However, the medical community has not reached a clear consensus on the matter, so if you are at higher risk of prostate cancer, it is best to avoid heavy alcohol consumption.
Alcohol and Throat Cancer
Closely linked with mouth cancer, throat cancer is a type of cancer that can cause a great deal of pain in the head and neck. Moreover, throat and neck cancers like laryngeal cancer can make it difficult to speak without external assistance. As of the latest research, alcohol consumption and tobacco are the two most common causes of throat cancers.
The Bottom Line
While alcohol is pervasive and many adults like to drink socially, it does not change the fact that alcohol is an addictive carcinogen. It is especially dangerous for alcoholics and binge drinkers who struggle to control their drinking. So, if you or a loved one are suffering from alcoholism and want to beat your alcohol addiction and lower your risk of cancer at the same time, you should reach out to Prosperity Haven today.
Are you, your child, friend, coworker, parent, or spouse struggling with alcohol addiction? Are you looking for alcohol abuse treatment options that target each patient’s specific needs? Finally, are you in need of a comprehensive alcohol rehab center that provides a wide range of effective solutions? If so, feel free to contact the experts at Prosperity Haven to learn more about getting help at our residential alcohol detox and rehab center.
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