Study Finds Alcohol Linked to More Cancers

study finds alcohol link to cancer

Even a small amount of alcohol can have detrimental effects on your health. Medical professionals have known for a long time that drinking can cause a long list of issues. Beyond social problems, alcohol can also result in a weakening of the immune system, liver disease, and heart disease. A recent study has also found that alcohol is linked to more cancers than previously thought.

Risks of Excessive Drinking

The CDC states that drinking alcohol excessively can increase the risk of many harmful health conditions. Alcohol poisoning, injuries from accidents, and mental health problems can also be caused by excessive drinking.

The most devastating results from excessive alcohol use are the approximately 95,000 deaths and 2.8 million years of potential life lost in the US each year. Lives are shortened by an average of 29 years when alcohol is found to be the cause of death. Among working-age adults from the ages of 20 to 64, excessive drinking is responsible for 1 in 10 deaths.

Alcohol Linked to More Cancers

In a recent study conducted by an international team led by Imperial College London, researchers found that alcohol consumption is linked to several types of cancer, more than were thought previously. In addition to those cancers typically associated with alcohol consumption, including liver and breast cancer, the study also discovered that alcohol is linked to cancers of the head and neck, such as mouth, larynx, and pharynx, as well as bowel and esophageal cancers.

Any Level Increases the Risk

The research into the alcohol link with cancer suggests that even low levels of drinking increases an individual’s risk of developing the disease. Across the globe, alcohol has been determined to be the cause of over 740,000 cases of cancer in 2020. While the number of cases is high, awareness of the risk remains low. A survey conducted in the UK in 2018 found that only 1 in 10 individuals were aware of the link between alcohol and cancer of any kind.

Most of the cancers were linked to heavier drinking, but even moderate or low levels of consumption have been responsible for many of the cases identified around the world. The researchers found that drinking the equivalent to a small glass of wine every day contributed to between 35,400 and 145,800 diagnoses of cancer in 2020.

Science Behind the Link

When alcohol is metabolized, it breaks down into chemicals that can bind to DNA. That can result in mutations that can potentially become cancerous. In addition, alcohol increases the hormone levels that are linked to the development of some types of breast cancer.

While even a small amount can be detrimental to an individual’s health, the more alcohol a person consumes, the higher their risk of developing one of the cancer types that have been linked to drinking.

Alcohol consumption was determined to be a factor in an estimated 568,700 cases of cancer in men and 172,600 cases of cancer in women in 2020. The majority of those cancers involved the liver, breast, and esophagus. The highest proportion of cases that were directly linked to alcohol were cancer of the lip and oral cavity, pharynx, and esophagus.

The Cancer Research UK’s chief executive, Michelle Mitchell, stated that “There’s strong evidence that drinking alcohol can cause seven types of cancer, and the more someone drinks the greater their risk. There’s no safe level of drinking, but whatever your drinking habits cutting down can reduce your risk of cancer.”

Coffee Associated with Reduced Risk

The study did find some encouraging news in regard to links between types of food and drink and cancer. Although there was strong evidence for an increased risk from alcohol consumption, there was actually a reduced risk for coffee and dairy products, in relation to the 11 cancer types that were studied.

Researchers found that drinking at least one cup of coffee a day was associated with a lower risk of developing liver cancer as well as basal cell carcinoma of the skin. Both caffeinated and decaffeinated coffee were found to have the same effect. Coffee is thought to have antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties that protect against diseases that are triggered by inflammation, including cancer.

Alcoholism Treatment for Professionals in Philadelphia

At Providence Treatment, we help professionals overcome their addiction to alcohol and drugs. We understand that it can be overwhelming for you to admit that you need help for your addiction to alcohol. When you are ready to get outpatient addiction treatment in Philadelphia, we are ready to help you. Our expertise is in serving high-profile clients and licensed professionals like you.

Don’t let addiction to alcohol or drugs take over your life. You can overcome addiction at Providence Treatment. If you need help getting clean, then contact us at 484.469.9592, and you can begin your recovery as soon as possible.

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