Did you know that alcohol is a carcinogen? While most people are familiar with the detrimental effects of alcohol on the nervous system and liver, many are unaware of its link to cancer. Substantial evidence indicates an association between heavy alcohol consumption and a higher cancer risk, with approximately 2 to 4 percent of cancers attributed to this substance directly or indirectly. These startling statistics concerning alcohol’s physical effects are additional to its devastating mental, social and financial effects.
Types of Cancers Associated with Alcoholism
The American Cancer Society reports clear evidence that alcohol raises the risk of cancers of the mouth and pharynx, along with the larynx and esophagus. When alcohol is combined with smoking, the risk of developing these cancers increases because a property of alcohol enables the harmful chemicals in tobacco to enter the cells of the digestive tract. This link between cancer and alcohol provides alcohol users motivation to seek alcoholism rehab. Long-term damaging effects of alcohol on the liver are well documented. Such damage may involve inflammation, which in turn may elevate the risk of cancer in this organ. Consuming even a few alcoholic drinks each week is associated with a higher risk of breast cancer. Women whose diet is low in folic acid are particularly at risk. Experts advise women with a maternal history of breast cancer to either reduce their alcohol consumption or completely abstain from it. Studies show alcohol use raises the risk of colorectal cancer. Although the link is more pronounced in men, it is present in both sexes.
Keep in mind, the limits of alcohol consumption advised by The American Cancer Society is no more than two drinks a day for men, and, for women, no more than one drink a day. Those who find these limits difficult to adhere to should seek treatments for alcoholism. (photo via)