Alcohol and Cancer Risks
Know the Risks:
People may drink alcohol just to have a good time with friends or lower their stress levels. Some cultures drink more often. That may not be easy to change, but you can create a new good habit. We have the choice to drink less alcohol. As the National Cancer Institute noted, there are six cancers related to drinking alcohol.
They can be at:
* The mouth
* A tube that connects the throat and stomach (Esophagus).
* A tube that runs from your nose to your neck (Pharynx)
* The airway at the front of the neck (Larynx)
* An organ that filters blood and removes substances (Liver)
* The breasts
The study shows that the cause of mouth cancer in every 7 out of 10 people may be from heavy drinking. Further, drinking more than 5 drinks a day, can lead to colon or rectal cancer. People that drink alcohol and smoke cigarettes can raise their risk of cancer by up to 15 times more.
When drinking alcohol, it first comes into the body from the mouth. Then, it runs down your throat (pharynx). After that, alcohol will pass to the tube connecting the throat to the stomach (Esophagus). Finally, the liver will clean the body from alcohol. When we smoke, the smoke comes into the mouth. Then, it passes through the tube that runs from your nose into your neck (pharynx). Then, the smoke goes into the airway at the front of the neck (larynx). Finally, the smoke goes through the pipe connected to the lungs (trachea).
A recent study shows that the risk of cancer increases by the following amounts when smoking and drinking alcohol:
* Cancer of the throat and mouth increases in men by 80%
* Cancer of the throat and mouth increases in women by 65%
* Cancer in the esophagus increases by 80%
* Cancer in the liver increases by 25- 30%
Women and Cancer
In 2008, there were 250,000 cases of breast cancer in the United States. 27,000 women got breast cancer from drinking alcohol. There is a study showing that one drink a day can raise the risk of cancer. Alcohol drinking can lead to breast, mouth, throat, rectum, liver and esophageal cancer.
Know the Reasons:
When alcohol breaks down inside the body, it makes things that damage the body (toxin). This toxin is called acetylaldehyde. This damages our proteins that contain important information (genes). Our body is made of trillions of small units (cell). Genes make healthy proteins in the cells in our body. Cancer cells can be made when genes are damaged.
When alcohol breaks down, the protein VEGF, or vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF), is made. VEGF is made in the tubes that blood runs through (blood vessels). When we have too much alcohol, it makes too much VEGF. Cancer cells can feed off of VEGF and can grow bigger.
Over time, the liver works harder to filter the alcohol. Alcohol can damage the liver and cause scarring (cirrhosis). When there are many scars inside the liver, the liver is not able to work. The liver helps us stay healthy. The liver makes helps absorb nutrients and makes useful proteins. It also stores sugar to keep sugar levels in the body even. It also balances hormones that can cause weight gain and mood swings.
Alcohol increases estrogen (female sex hormone) in the body and this can cause breast cancer.
Know There’s a Bright Side
We can lower the risk of cancer in the throat by reducing smoking and drinking. A study shows that not drinking alcohol for long enough can lower the risk of cancer back to normal levels.
NATIONAL INSTITUTE ON ALCOHOL ABUSE AND ALCOHOLISM (2012). Beyond hangovers understanding alcohol’s impact on your health, Cancer Risks, 17-19.