We already know that drinking alcohol comes with its risks, especially if you’re binge-drinking. Bad news! It looks like alcohol is more dangerous than we previously thought, even for light to moderate drinkers. After 10 years of research, scientists have been able to conclude that alcohol causes cancer.
The study’s findings state that drinking alcohol (even just a little) can cause oropharynx, larynx, oesophagus, liver, colon, rectum and breast cancer.
Published in Addiction (an online scientific journal), the researchers found that drinking 2.5 beers or three glasses of wine a day increases your chances of getting oropharynx, larynx and esophagus cancer by 4 to 7%. This is compared to those who drink no alcohol at all. Drinking that amount also increases your risk of getting liver, colon, rectum and breast cancer by 1.5%.
Scientists were able to conclude that “alcohol-attributable cancers at these sites make up 5.8% of all cancer deaths world-wide.” They also report, “alcohol is estimated to have caused approximately half a million deaths from cancer in 2012.” That’s 5.8% of cancer-caused deaths world-wide!
Additionally, the study found that smoking cigarettes in combination with drinking significantly raises the risk of cancer of the mouth, pharynx and larynx. Alcohol creates a pathway of sorts. That pathway allows access for carcinogens to penetrate the mucous membrane and the respiratory and upper part of the digestive tract.
So, what exactly about alcohol causes cancer? Scientists aren’t exactly sure, but they have a theory. It all comes down to acetaldehyde, the compound formed when alcohol breaks down. Acetaldehyde does damage to the DNA cells found in these specific parts of the body.
There is a tiny bit of good news, though. People who quit drinking are able to lower their risk of larynx, throat and liver cancer. The only downside is it takes years to get your cancer-risk level back down to that of a non-drinker’s.
Moral of the story: If you’re a smoker, stop now! Also, heavy drinkers have a chance to reverse some of the damage already caused by cutting back on alcohol intake.
Drink wisely, friends!