Alcohol Use and Cancer Risk

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Update Date 12/05/2020
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Numerous studies have established an association between alcohol consumption and the risk of cancer over the past few years. However, alcoholic drink play an important role in our world from being a nice drink to accompany your meals to a way of celebration or grief, most people do not consider it a dire threat. Little do they know, even a small amount of alcohol contributes to their risk of getting cancer.

How does alcohol make you more vulnerable to cancer?

Acetaldehyde is a product of alcohol metabolism. It is not only more toxic than the alcohol itself but also a known human carcinogen that can harm our DNA and proteins. Moreover, alcohol can cause oxidation to the molecules made up of oxygen, resulting in damaged DNA, proteins or lipids. It also hinders the digestive process of essential nutrients such as vitamins and minerals. In women, alcohol may stimulate estrogen production, make it more likely for breast cancer.

What if you also smoke?

People exposed to both alcohol and tobacco are proved to be more prone to oral cavity and pharynx cancers than those who only smoke or drink. In fact, the combination of alcohol and tobacco is deadlier than you thought. Consumption of them increases cancer risk significantly, which is way more dangerous than their individual risks added all together.

Do your genes have anything to do with this?

The answer is yes. Your genes provide the enzymes needed to digest alcohol. While some people have the kind of enzymes that accelerate the accumulation of acetaldehyde, some others possess the enzymes that can break acetaldehyde into unharmful substances, thus making them less likely to develop alcohol-related cancer risks.

Is red wine good for reducing the risk of cancer?

Red wine contains substances that have anti-cancer effects on animals. Unfortunately, trials using human subjects have not yielded the same result. In order to have a conclusive association between red wine and cancer risk, we will need more research. In the meantime, it is advisable to limit your consumption of any types of alcohol.

It is common knowledge that heavy drinking is not good for your health. Still the fact, it can increase your risk of getting cancer and might strike you as a surprise. That does not mean you would never touch alcohol again. A drink or two per day is fine. However, you may need to think twice before taking any alcoholic beverages if you are underage, pregnant or having certain medical conditions that will put you at risk if you drink (liver disease, for example).

Hello Health Group does not provide medical advice, diagnose or treatment.

msBahasa Malaysia

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