How Does Alcohol Cause Cancer?

How Does Alcohol Cause Cancer
Alcohol can cause cancer by: ethanol (pure alcohol) and its toxic by-product acetaldehyde damaging cells by binding with DNA and causing cells to replicate incorrectly. influencing hormone levels, which can modify how cells grow and divide.

How does alcohol increase risk of cancer?

The American Cancer Society recently updated its guidelines for preventing cancer. Among the recommendations: Don’t drink alcohol. While no alcohol is best for cancer prevention, women who choose to drink anyway should have no more than one drink a day, and men no more than two drinks a day.

We spoke with Therese Bevers, M.D., medical director of MD Anderson’s Cancer Prevention Center, about the new alcohol guidelines and what they mean. What is your reaction to these updated alcohol guidelines? These updated guidelines bring the American Cancer Society’s recommendations more in line with what we know about alcohol and cancer risk.

They are also consistent with what’s recommended by other organizations, including MD Anderson and the American Institute for Cancer Research, We know that alcohol increases the risk for several cancers, including oral cancer, pharynx and larynx cancers, colorectal and esophageal cancers, as well as liver and breast cancers,

The ethanol in alcoholic drinks breaks down to acetaldehyde, a known carcinogen. This compound damages DNA and stops our cells from repairing the damage. This can allow cancerous cells to grow. Alcohol can affect levels of hormones like estrogen. These hormones act as messengers that tell our cells to grow and divide. The more cells divide, the more chances there are for something to go wrong and for cancer to develop. Alcohol makes the body less able to break down and absorb several important nutrients such as vitamins A, C, D, E, and folate. These nutrients help protect the body against cancer. Alcohol provides empty calories. Consuming extra calories can lead to weight gain, which can increase a person’s cancer risk.

If alcohol is a carcinogen, why do you give serving recommendations? We recognize that most Americans are not going to abstain from drinking alcohol completely. So, if they are going to drink, at least we can offer some guidance on what moderate drinking looks like.

The important thing to remember is that every time you drink, you increase your cancer risk. As with cigarettes and processed meat, there is no safe amount of alcohol. What should patients in active cancer treatment know about alcohol and cancer? Alcohol can worsen the side effects of chemotherapy and drugs used during cancer treatment.

These side effects include nausea, dehydration and mouth sores, And, drinking alcohol increases the risk of additional cancer diagnoses. Cancer patients should talk to their doctor about the use of alcohol. How does drinking alcohol affect a person’s chances of cancer recurrence? Studies show that alcohol is a risk factor for certain cancers.

  • However, the link between alcohol and cancer recurrence is not known, especially for those who have completed cancer treatment.
  • However, it’s best to avoid drinking after a cancer diagnosis, since it increases cancer risk.
  • If someone quits drinking, how does past consumption of alcohol impact their cancer risk? Research has shown that when you stop drinking, the risk for alcohol-related cancers declines over time.

It may take many years to fully eliminate that risk; however, quitting is a very important step to improving your health and decreasing your cancer risk. What is the best thing to drink if I’m going to have alcohol? When it comes to managing your cancer risk, there is no alcoholic drink that is better than the other.

  1. All of them — including beer, wine and liquor — have ethanol, which is linked to increased cancer risk.
  2. To limit alcohol’s impact on your waistline, choose something that is lower in calories.
  3. For example, stay away from cocktails that have sugary mixers.
  4. If you drink red wine in the hopes that you are protecting your heart health, I would look for other ways to do that.

Some studies suggest that there are compounds in red wine that offer cardiovascular benefits. But there are many ways to keep your heart healthy. The potential benefits of drinking wine do not outweigh the cancer risk. Request an appointment at MD Anderson online or by calling 1-877-632-6789.

What are the 7 types of cancer caused by alcohol?

A New Zealand study has found “strong evidence” that alcohol causes seven types of cancer — oropharynx, larynx, esophagus, liver, colon, rectum and breast cancer — and “probably others” such as pancreas, prostate and skin cancer, While men who drink more than four alcoholic beverages a day and women who drink more than three are in the greatest danger, the assessment, published in Addiction Journal, claims that even moderate alcohol consumption puts people at risk.

The highest risks are associated with the heaviest drinking but a considerable burden is experienced by drinkers with low to moderate consumption,” said study author Jennie Connor, professor of epidemiology in the Department of Preventive and Social Medicine at the University of Otago, New Zealand.

“There is no argument, on current evidence, for a safe level of drinking with respect to cancer.” Leslie Bernstein, Ph.D., a professor in the Department of Population Sciences, qualified the study’s findings by suggesting that there is more nuance to the relationship.

  1. I am always reluctant to state that some factor causes cancer, except with regard to cigarette smoking causing lung cancer,” Bernstein said.
  2. When we say ‘alcohol causes seven cancers,’ we neglect the fact that many factors may cause these cancers and only a few people who drink alcohol will develop one of these cancers due to their drinking alcohol and not due to other things, or a combination of other things with alcohol.” For the study, Connor looked at 10 years’ worth of data from numerous agencies, including the World Cancer Research Fund,

She found that drinking 50 grams of alcohol per day — about 2.6 beers, or three six-ounce glasses of wine — resulted in a four to seven times greater risk of cancer in the oropharynx, larynx and esophagus, and a 1.5 times greater risk of the other types, compared to consuming no alcohol.

  • According to her findings, alcohol directly caused approximately 5.8 percent of cancer deaths worldwide in 2012.
  • Alcohol consumption is one of the most important known risk factors for human cancer and potentially one of the most avoidable factors, but it is increasing worldwide,” Connor wrote.
  • She also noted that the risks, particularly for cancers of the mouth and throat, increase even more for people who also smoke.

Scientists aren’t sure how alcohol causes cancer, but acetaldehyde, a compound that is formed when alcohol breaks down in the body, has been found to damage the DNA of cells in the mouth, throat, esophagus and liver. Stopping alcohol consumption, however, seems to lower one’s risk of cancer of the larynx, throat and liver, with the risk continuing to drop the longer one abstains, according to Connor’s analysis.

  1. This finding contradicts previous studies showing that alcohol consumption, such as drinking red wine daily, could offer protection against cancer.
  2. In fact, Connor’s study stated, “Promotion of health benefits from drinking at moderate levels is seen increasingly as disingenuous or irrelevant in comparison to the increase in risk of a range of cancers.” Bernstein remained skeptical of some of the study’s conclusions and noted in particular “the difficulty in separating out the effects of cigarette smoking, which are so often a more potent driver of cancer risk (at least for oral cancers and the one subtype of esophageal cancer that is impacted by alcohol — squamous cell esophageal cancer).

For the oral cancers, it is difficult to determine whether alcohol has an independent effect.” I think the author did not say enough about the combination of other risk factors for each of the seven cancers,” Bernstein said. While she allowed that “there is substantial evidence that alcohol intake is associated with risk of the seven cancers, epidemiological studies are not able to provide sufficient evidence of causation.” For example, Bernstein noted, “alcohol is not the major determinant of oral cancers or squamous cell cancer of the esophagus.

Most important for those cancers is not to smoke. For liver cancer, hepatitis is a major risk factor. Many factors contribute to breast cancer and colorectal cancer. Alcohol is not a major risk factor for these cancers — there are so many other factors that are important determinants of risk.” To put all this in perspective, she concluded, “If a person were to drink only one to two drinks a week, their potential for developing one of these cancers would remain quite low — and at these levels we cannot be certain that there is any direct causation.” So, perhaps no one need give up that Saturday night gin and tonic just yet.

But stopping at one may make a real difference. ****

What percentage of cancer cases are caused by alcohol?

2.2. Oesophageal Cancer – Drinking alcohol increases the risk of squamous cell carcinoma of the oesophagus which is the most common histological subtype of oesophageal cancer globally, and contributed the most cases of cancer in 2020 attributable to alcohol (189,700 cases),

An excess risk of oesophageal squamous cell carcinoma was found in the WCRF Continuous Update Project (RR 1.25 per 10 g alcohol per day), and in Bagnardi and colleagues’ meta-analysis, the pooled RR estimates for light and heavy drinking were 1.26 (95% CI 1.06–1.50) and 4.95 (95% CI 3.86–6.34), respectively,

There were differences in risk between geographic locations in both meta-analyses, with higher oesophageal squamous cell carcinoma risk among drinkers in studies conducted in Asia than those in North America or Europe. This observation possibly reflects the elevated risk of oesophageal squamous cell carcinoma among carriers of the ALDH2*2 polymorphism of the gene that codes the enzyme aldehyde dehydrogenase 2 (ALDH2),

  1. The ALDH2*2 variant allele is more common in Eastern Asian populations and confers nearly four times the risk of oesophageal cancer among drinkers compared with ALDH2*1 carriers,
  2. For oesophageal adenocarcinoma, the second most common histological subtype of oesophageal cancer, no increased risk was observed in the WCRF meta-analysis (RR 1.00 (95% CI 0.98–1.02) per 10 g per day) but an inverse association was found for oesophageal adenocarcinoma and gastric cardia cancer among light drinkers in the meta-analysis by Bagnardi and colleagues (RR 0.86 (95% CI 0.76–0.98)),

Cancers of the upper aerodigestive tract can also be characterised as having a more than multiplicative increased risk when alcohol and tobacco are consumed together. This synergistic effect has been observed in several studies; for example a pooled analysis of 11,200 head and neck cancer cases and 16,200 controls found a 14 times risk of head and neck cancers among those who drank at least three alcoholic drinks per day and smoked more than 20 cigarettes per day, compared with never drinkers who had never smoked,

Is alcohol a Class 1 carcinogen?

It is the alcohol that causes harm, not the beverage – Alcohol is a toxic, psychoactive, and dependence-producing substance and has been classified as a Group 1 carcinogen by the International Agency for Research on Cancer decades ago – this is the highest risk group, which also includes asbestos, radiation and tobacco.

Alcohol causes at least seven types of cancer, including the most common cancer types, such as bowel cancer and female breast cancer. Ethanol (alcohol) causes cancer through biological mechanisms as the compound breaks down in the body, which means that any beverage containing alcohol, regardless of its price and quality, poses a risk of developing cancer.

The risk of developing cancer increases substantially the more alcohol is consumed. However, latest available data indicate that half of all alcohol-attributable cancers in the WHO European Region are caused by “light” and “moderate” alcohol consumption – less than 1.5 litres of wine or less than 3.5 litres of beer or less than 450 millilitres of spirits per week.

See also:  How Does Body Metabolize Alcohol?

How many alcoholics get cancer?

Report Details Alcohol’s Global Cancer Burden August 12, 2021, by Sharon Reynolds How Does Alcohol Cause Cancer Approximately 4% of cancers diagnosed worldwide in 2020 can be attributed to alcohol consumption, according to a new WHO report. Nearly 750,000 cases of cancer diagnosed worldwide in 2020, or 4%, can be attributed to alcohol consumption, according to a new study from the World Health Organization (WHO).

While heavy drinking accounted for the most cases, light and moderate drinking accounted for more than 100,000 of those cases, the study found. Researchers have explored trends over earlier time periods in previous studies and found similar associations. But patterns of alcohol consumption—who’s drinking what and where—shift over time.

While alcohol consumption is declining in some areas of the world, such as parts of Europe, it’s on the rise in other areas, including China, India, and many sub-Saharan African nations. The types of cancer with the most cases linked to alcohol use, the researchers reported July 13 in The Lancet Oncology,

Eastern Asia and central and eastern Europe had the highest numbers of alcohol-related cancers in proportion to their populations, while northern Africa and western Asia had the lowest. The WHO researchers also where people can explore the results by country, cancer site, and other variables. Although awareness that drinking alcohol can cause cancer doesn’t necessarily lead people to change their behavior immediately, “knowledge is always better than no knowledge,” said Christian Abnet, Ph.D., M.P.H., of NCI’s,

“And it’s helpful to do these studies so countries can look at their own patterns of alcohol use and decide whether they want to make some changes” in policy.

Is alcohol reducing cancer risk?

– Not everyone who drinks alcohol will develop cancer. However, drinking alcohol regularly can increase the likelihood of cancer, like tobacco, too much UV sun radiation, being overweight and a lack of physical activity. Less or no alcohol, can reduce your likelihood of getting cancer.

What are 4 alcohol induced diseases?

Long-Term Health Risks – Over time, excessive alcohol use can lead to the development of chronic diseases and other serious problems including:

  • High blood pressure, heart disease, stroke, liver disease, and digestive problems.6,16
  • of the breast, mouth, throat, esophagus, voice box, liver, colon, and rectum.6,17
  • Weakening of the immune system, increasing the chances of getting sick.6,16
  • Learning and memory problems, including dementia and poor school performance.6,18
  • Mental health problems, including depression and anxiety.6,19
  • Social problems, including family problems, job-related problems, and unemployment.6,20,21
  • Alcohol use disorders, or alcohol dependence.5

By not drinking too much, you can reduce the risk of these short- and long-term health risks.

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  • : Alcohol Use and Your Health

    How much alcohol a day causes cancer?

    The less alcohol you drink, the lower your risk for cancer. The less alcohol you drink, the lower your risk for cancer. Drinking alcohol raises your risk of getting several kinds of cancer—

    Mouth and throat. Voice box (larynx). Esophagus. Colon and rectum. Liver. Breast (in women).

    Some studies show that drinking three or more alcoholic drinks per day increases the risk of stomach and pancreatic cancers. There is also evidence that drinking alcohol increases the risk for prostate cancer. All alcoholic drinks, including red and white wine, beer, and liquor, are linked with cancer. The more you drink, the higher your cancer risk.

    How long after quitting drinking does cancer risk decrease?

    Alcohol and Cancer Risk Fact Sheet Alcohol is the common term for ethanol or ethyl alcohol, a chemical substance found in alcoholic beverages such as beer, hard cider, malt liquor, wines, and distilled spirits (liquor). Alcohol is produced by the fermentation of sugars and starches by yeast.

    Alcohol is also found in some medicines, mouthwashes, and household products (including vanilla extract and other flavorings). This fact sheet focuses on cancer risks associated with the consumption of alcoholic beverages. According to the, a standard alcoholic drink in the United States contains 14.0 grams (0.6 ounces) of pure alcohol.

    Generally, this amount of pure alcohol is found in:

    • 12 ounces of beer
    • 8–10 ounces of malt liquor
    • 5 ounces of wine
    • 1.5 ounces, or a “shot,” of 80-proof distilled spirits (liquor)

    These amounts are used by public health experts in developing health guidelines about alcohol consumption and to provide a way for people to compare the amounts of alcohol they consume. However, they may not reflect the typical serving sizes people may encounter in daily life.

    1. According to the federal government’s, individuals who do not drink alcohol should not start drinking for any reason.
    2. The Dietary Guidelines also recommends that people who drink alcohol do so in moderation by limiting consumption to 2 drinks or less in a day for men and 1 drink or less in a day for women.

    Heavy alcohol drinking is defined as having 4 or more drinks on any day or 8 or more drinks per week for women and 5 or more drinks on any day or 15 or more drinks per week for men. How Does Alcohol Cause Cancer There is a strong scientific consensus that alcohol drinking can cause several types of cancer (, ). In its, the National Toxicology Program of the US Department of Health and Human Services lists consumption of alcoholic beverages as a known human,

    The evidence indicates that the more alcohol a person drinks—particularly the more alcohol a person drinks regularly over time—the higher his or her risk of developing an alcohol-associated cancer. Even those who have no more than one drink per day and binge drinkers (those who consume 4 or more drinks for women and 5 or more drinks for men in one sitting) have a modestly increased risk of some cancers (–).

    Based on data from 2009, an estimated 3.5% of cancer deaths in the United States (about 19,500 deaths) were alcohol related (). Clear patterns have emerged between alcohol consumption and the development of the following types of cancer:

    : Moderate to heavy alcohol consumption is associated with higher risks of certain head and neck cancers. Moderate drinkers have 1.8-fold higher risks of (excluding the lips) and (throat) cancers and 1.4-fold higher risks of (voice box) cancers than non-drinkers, and heavy drinkers have 5-fold higher risks of oral cavity and pharynx cancers and 2.6-fold higher risks of larynx cancers (, ). Moreover, the risks of these cancers are substantially higher among persons who consume this amount of alcohol and also use tobacco ().

    : Alcohol consumption at any level is associated with an increased risk of a type of esophageal cancer called esophageal, The risks, compared with no alcohol consumption, range from 1.3-fold higher for light drinking to nearly 5-fold higher for heavy drinking (, ). In addition, people who inherit a deficiency in an that metabolizes alcohol have been found to have substantially increased risks of esophageal squamous cell carcinoma if they consume alcohol ().

    • : Epidemiologic studies have consistently found an increased risk of breast cancer with increasing alcohol intake. Pooled data from 118 individual studies indicates that light drinkers have a slightly increased (1.04-fold higher) risk of breast cancer, compared with nondrinkers. The risk increase is greater in moderate drinkers (1.23-fold higher) and heavy drinkers (1.6-fold higher) (, ). An analysis of data for 88,000 women participating in two US concluded that for women who have never smoked, light to moderate drinking was associated with a 1.13-fold increased risk of alcohol-related cancers (mostly breast cancer) ().
    • : Moderate to heavy alcohol consumption is associated with 1.2- to 1.5-fold increased risks of cancers of the colon and rectum compared with no alcohol consumption (,, ).

    Numerous studies have examined whether there is an association between alcohol consumption and the risk of other cancers. For cancers of the ovary, prostate, stomach, uterus, and bladder, either no association with alcohol use has been found or the evidence for an association is inconsistent.

    However, evidence is accumulating that alcohol consumption is associated with increased risks of melanoma and of prostate and pancreatic cancers (, ). Alcohol consumption has also been associated with decreased risks of (–) and (, ) in multiple studies. However, any potential benefits of alcohol consumption for reducing the risks of some cancers are likely outweighed by the harms of alcohol consumption.

    In fact, a recent study that included data from more than 1,000 alcohol studies and data sources, as well as death and disability records from 195 countries and territories from 1990 to 2016, concluded that the optimal number of drinks to consume per day to minimize the overall risk to health is zero ().

    1. That study did not include data on kidney cancer or non-Hodgkin lymphoma.
    2. Alcohol consumption may also be associated with an increased risk of,
    3. For example, a of data from 19 studies showed that among patients with cancer of the upper (UADT)—which includes the oral cavity, pharynx, larynx, and esophagus—for every 10 grams of alcohol consumed per day before the first UADT cancer diagnosis there was a 1.09-fold higher risk of a second primary UADT cancer ().
    See also:  What Is The Most Alcoholic Drink?

    It is less clear whether alcohol consumption increases the risk of second primary cancers at other sites, such as the breast (–). Researchers have hypothesized multiple ways that alcohol may increase the risk of cancer, including

    • metabolizing (breaking down) ethanol in alcoholic drinks to acetaldehyde, which is a toxic chemical and a probable human ; acetaldehyde can damage both (the genetic material that makes up ) and
    • generating (chemically reactive molecules that contain oxygen), which can damage DNA, proteins, and lipids (fats) in the body through a process called
    • impairing the body’s ability to break down and absorb a variety of nutrients that may be associated with cancer risk, including ; nutrients in the, such as ; ; ; ; and
    • increasing blood levels of, a sex hormone linked to the risk of breast cancer

    Alcoholic beverages may also contain a variety of carcinogenic contaminants that are introduced during fermentation and production, such as, fibers,, and, The mechanisms by which alcohol consumption may decrease the risks of some cancers are not understood and may be indirect.

    • Shows that people who use both alcohol and tobacco have much greater risks of developing cancers of the, (throat),, and than people who use either alcohol or tobacco alone.
    • In fact, for oral and pharyngeal cancers, the risks associated with using both alcohol and tobacco are multiplicative; that is, they are greater than would be expected from adding the individual risks associated with alcohol and tobacco together (, ).

    A person’s risk of alcohol-related cancers is influenced by their, specifically the genes that encode involved in metabolizing (breaking down) alcohol (). For example, one way the body metabolizes alcohol is through the activity of an enzyme called alcohol dehydrogenase, or ADH, which converts ethanol into the carcinogenic acetaldehyde, mainly in the liver.

    Recent evidence suggests that acetaldehyde production also occurs in the oral cavity and may be influenced by factors such as the oral (, ). Many individuals of East Asian descent carry a version of the gene for ADH that codes for a “superactive” form of the enzyme. This superactive ADH enzyme speeds the conversion of alcohol (ethanol) to toxic acetaldehyde.

    Among people of Japanese descent, those who have this form of ADH have a higher risk of pancreatic cancer than those with the more common form of ADH (). Another enzyme, called aldehyde dehydrogenase 2 (ALDH2), metabolizes toxic acetaldehyde to nontoxic substances.

    • Some people, particularly those of East Asian descent, carry a variant of the gene for ALDH2 that encodes a defective form of the enzyme.
    • In people who produce the defective enzyme, acetaldehyde builds up when they drink alcohol.
    • The accumulation of acetaldehyde has such unpleasant effects (including facial flushing and heart palpitations) that most people who have inherited the ALDH2 variant are unable to consume large amounts of alcohol and therefore have a low risk of developing alcohol-related cancers.

    However, some individuals with the defective form of ALDH2 can become tolerant to the unpleasant effects of acetaldehyde and consume large amounts of alcohol. Epidemiologic studies have shown that such individuals have a higher risk of alcohol-related esophageal cancer, as well as of head and neck cancers, than individuals with the fully active enzyme who drink comparable amounts of alcohol ().

    These increased risks are seen only among people who carry the ALDH2 variant and drink alcohol—they are not observed in people who carry the variant but do not drink alcohol. The plant secondary compound, found in grapes used to make red wine and some other plants, has been investigated for many possible health effects, including cancer prevention.

    However, researchers have found no association between moderate consumption of red wine and the risk of developing prostate cancer () or colorectal cancer (). Most of the studies that have examined whether cancer risk declines after a person stops drinking alcohol have focused on and on,

    • In general, these studies have found that stopping alcohol consumption is not associated with immediate reductions in cancer risk.
    • The cancer risks eventually decline, although it may take years for the risks of cancer to return to those of never drinkers.
    • For example, ex-drinkers still had higher risks of and cancers than never drinkers even 16 years after they stopped drinking alcohol, although it was lower than before they stopped drinking ().

    One study estimated that it would take more than 35 years for the higher risks of and pharyngeal cancers associated with alcohol consumption to decrease to the level of never drinkers (), As with most questions related to a specific individual’s cancer treatment, it is best for patients to check with their health care team about whether it is safe to drink alcohol during or immediately following treatment.

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    33. Chao C, Haque R, Caan BJ, et al. Red wine consumption not associated with reduced risk of colorectal cancer. Nutrition and Cancer 2010; 62(6):849–855.
    34. Rehm J, Patra J, Popova S. Alcohol drinking cessation and its effect on esophageal and head and neck cancers: A pooled analysis. International Journal of Cancer 2007; 121(5):1132–1137.
    35. Ahmad Kiadaliri A, Jarl J, Gavriilidis G, Gerdtham UG. Alcohol drinking cessation and the risk of laryngeal and pharyngeal cancers: A systematic review and meta-analysis. PLoS One 2013; 8(3):e58158.

    If you would like to reproduce some or all of this content, see for guidance about copyright and permissions. In the case of permitted digital reproduction, please credit the National Cancer Institute as the source and link to the original NCI product using the original product’s title; e.g., “Alcohol and Cancer Risk was originally published by the National Cancer Institute.” : Alcohol and Cancer Risk Fact Sheet

    See also:  Do Mocktails Have Alcohol?

    Does stop drinking reverse cancer risk?

    Last Reviewed: March 7, 2022 Your risk for alcohol-related cancers will decrease over time if you stop drinking. Quitting improves your health. Many people know heavy alcohol use can cause health problems like cirrhosis of the liver, hepatitis, high blood pressure, heart disease, and stroke.

    Many don’t know that alcohol can also increase your risk of cancer. Alcohol use increases your risk of many types of cancer, including cancers of the mouth, throat (pharynx), voice box (larynx), esophagus (swallowing tube), liver, breast (in women), colon and rectum, The risk for each of these cancers increases with the amount of alcohol you drink over time.

    It does not matter what you drink, whether it be beer, wine, or liquor (distilled spirits). The risk varies for each type of cancer. It depends on how much you drink and if you are also using tobacco. Heavy drinkers can have as much as 10-15 times higher risk of these cancers than those who do not drink.

    12 ounces of regular beer,5 ounces of wine, or1.5 ounces of 80-proof liquor.)

    Higher breast cancer risk has been associated with just a few drinks a week, so the risk is not limited to heavy drinking. Smoking cigarettes and other tobacco product use puts you at higher risk for cancers of the mouth, throat, voice box, and esophagus.

    Tobacco and alcohol use together cause many more of these cancers than either cause on their own. If you are a moderate to heavy drinker, you can decrease your risk of cancers associated with alcohol by cutting down alcohol use or stopping. It may be hard at first to deal with alcohol withdrawal symptoms and may be even harder to stop drinking entirely, but it will improve your health.

    Your healthcare provider can help you create a plan if you decide to quit drinking to manage the symptoms of withdrawal, especially if you are a heavy drinker. After 15-20 years of being alcohol-free, your risk of esophageal or head and neck cancer does decrease, though it does not ever reach that of a never drinker.

    The American Cancer Society: Alcohol Use and Cancer American Institute for Cancer Research: Facts About Alcohol

    Is smoking or drinking worse for cancer?

    Putting alcohol and smoking head to head – First, this calculation includes the impact of alcohol and smoking on all types of cancer combined. Even though a few cancer types are linked to both smoking and alcohol, some are more strongly associated with one risk factor than the other.

    Drinking alcohol increases the risk of mouth, upper throat (pharyngeal), oesophageal, voice box (laryngeal), breast, bowel and liver cancer. Whereas smoking is linked to at least 15 types of cancer, the most common being lung cancer. Dr Katrina Brown, Cancer Research UK’s statistical information and risk manager, says focusing on the result for all cancers combined might downplay the impact each risk factor has for individual cancer types.

    “There are certainly downsides to comparing risk factors in this way,” says Brown. These figures should be viewed more as illustrative rather than precise. – Dr Katrina Brown, Cancer Research UK “Take lung cancer for example. For lung cancer, drinking a bottle of wine would not have the same effect as smoking 10 cigarettes, because smoking has a much bigger impact on lung cancer risk than drinking alcohol does.” But the picture is different when talking about breast cancer.

    1. Of the cancers linked to alcohol, drinking causes more than any other type in the UK – because breast cancer is the most common of the alcohol-related cancer types.
    2. Stats from 2015 suggest that around 8 in 100 breast cancer cases were linked to alcohol.
    3. That’s why the researchers saw a bigger overall impact in women from that weekly bottle of wine, because the biggest cancer type linked with alcohol is by far more common in women than men.

    So, communicating the risk of drinking alcohol, and the comparison between smoking and drinking, in a way that groups all cancers together might not be the most informative option. “It’s particularly important to consider that some individuals might have a higher risk for specific cancers because of other risk factors like obesity, or genetics,” says Brown.

    Can you get cancer if you don’t smoke or drink?

    How is cancer related to smoking and drinking? – There is a variety of evidence that establishes a clear link between smoking and cancer risks. This is because tobacco smoke can contain upto 70 types of carcinogens ie. chemicals that cause cancer, Studies have shown that as many as 9 out of 10 lung cancer cases are caused due to smoking and it can also lead to cancers in other body parts such as the kidneys, liver and mouth,

    • Similarly, although to a less severe degree, there is research that links alcohol use and cancer risks.
    • This is because certain substances in alcohol can damage the body’s DNA, leading to abnormal cell growth and tumours,
    • This can lead to cancers of the mouth, throat, breast and liver.
    • For these reasons, drinking and smoking have been linked with cancer risks, and doctors advise avoiding the two habits to improve one’s chances of preventing cancer,

    However, those are just two lifestyle choices linked to cancer, and do not cover the entire range of factors that can lead to someone contracting cancer. Other factors that can lead to cancer Apart from smoking and drinking, there are various types of lifestyle choices especially in urban India that can also increase one’s chances of contracting not only cancer but also other types of critical illnesses.

    1. For instance, a diet full of processed foods, lack of physical exercise and excessive exposure to sunlight can place someone at a greater risk of cancer.
    2. Even if one does not drink or smoke, these lifestyle choices can lead one to contract cancers that are actually preventable,
    3. This does not give you a reason, by the way, to stop trying to quit.

    However, unfortunately, there are also other cancer risks and factors that are completely unpreventable, such as:

    1. Age: With advancing age, the risk of certain types of cancer tends to increase as well. 2. Medical history: Inheriting certain types of genes can make one more likely to develop cancer than others. 3. Virus or infections: Certain microscopic organisms such as HPV can cause specific types of cancer such as cervical and oropharyngeal cancers.

    Is coffee a Class 1 carcinogen?

    Coffee Is Not a Carcinogen.

    Is vodka a carcinogen?

    Alcohol is a known carcinogen. This means that alcohol causes cancer. There is strong evidence that drinking alcohol increases people’s risk of cancers of the female breast, liver, mouth, throat (pharynx and larynx), oesophagus and bowel.

    Are there carcinogens in coffee?

    – Roasted coffee beans contain some acrylamide. Coffee drinkers can avoid this chemical by choosing unroasted coffee beans, although these do taste very different. The FDA recommends that adults consume no more than 4–5 cups of coffee a day. The American Academy of Pediatrics advises that children or adolescents do not consume products that contain caffeine.

    Doctors generally also suggest that people who are pregnant or breastfeeding limit their caffeine consumption, However, the guidelines on this may vary and can be difficult to follow because coffee strength differs too. People trying to limit their coffee intake may wish to seek medical advice or cut out coffee and other caffeinated products completely.

    However, if a person wants to reduce the amount of coffee that they drink, they should do so slowly. Cutting down on caffeine can cause headaches, Replacing coffee with tea, decaffeinated coffee, water, or herbal teas can reduce a person’s caffeine intake.

    What are the risks of drinking alcohol?

    Long-Term Health Risks – Over time, excessive alcohol use can lead to the development of chronic diseases and other serious problems including:

    • High blood pressure, heart disease, stroke, liver disease, and digestive problems.6,16
    • of the breast, mouth, throat, esophagus, voice box, liver, colon, and rectum.6,17
    • Weakening of the immune system, increasing the chances of getting sick.6,16
    • Learning and memory problems, including dementia and poor school performance.6,18
    • Mental health problems, including depression and anxiety.6,19
    • Social problems, including family problems, job-related problems, and unemployment.6,20,21
    • Alcohol use disorders, or alcohol dependence.5

    By not drinking too much, you can reduce the risk of these short- and long-term health risks.

    1. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention., Accessed April 19, 2022.
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    3. Sacks JJ, Gonzales KR, Bouchery EE, Tomedi LE, Brewer RD., Am J Prev Med 2015; 49(5):e73–e79.
    4. U.S. Department of Agriculture and U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.9th Edition, Washington, DC; 2020.
    5. Esser MB, Hedden SL, Kanny D, Brewer RD, Gfroerer JC, Naimi TS., Prev Chronic Dis 2014;11:140329.
    6. World Health Organization., Geneva, Switzerland: World Health Organization; 2018.
    7. Alpert HR, Slater ME, Yoon YH, Chen CM, Winstanley N, Esser MB., Am J Prev Med 2022;63:286–300.
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    10. Abbey A., J Stud Alcohol Suppl 2002;14:118–128.
    11. Kanny D, Brewer RD, Mesnick JB, Paulozzi LJ, Naimi TS, Lu H., MMWR 2015;63:1238-1242.
    12. Naimi TS, Lipscomb LE, Brewer RD, Colley BG., Pediatrics 2003;11(5):1136–1141.
    13. Wechsler H, Davenport A, Dowdall G, Moeykens B, Castillo S., JAMA 1994;272(21):1672–1677.
    14. Kesmodel U, Wisborg K, Olsen SF, Henriksen TB, Sechler NJ., Alcohol & Alcoholism 2002;37(1):87–92.
    15. American Academy of Pediatrics, Committee on Substance Abuse and Committee on Children with Disabilities.2000., Pediatrics 2000;106:358–361.
    16. Rehm J, Baliunas D, Borges GL, Graham K, Irving H, Kehoe T, et al., Addiction.2010;105(5):817-43.
    17. International Agency for Research on Cancer. Personal Habits and Indoor Combustions: A Review of Human Carcinogens, Volume 100E 2012. Available from:,
    18. Miller JW, Naimi TS, Brewer RD, Jones SE., Pediatrics.2007;119(1):76-85.
    19. Castaneda R, Sussman N, Westreich L, Levy R, O’Malley M., J Clin Psychiatry 1996;57(5):207–212.
    20. Booth BM, Feng W., J Behavioral Health Services and Research 2002;29(2):157–166.
    21. Leonard KE, Rothbard JC., J Stud Alcohol Suppl 1999;13:139–146.
  • : Alcohol Use and Your Health

    How does alcohol cause liver disease?

    Liver cancer – Liver damage due to heavy drinking over many years can also increase your risk of developing liver cancer, Over the past few decades, rates of liver cancer in the UK have risen sharply due to increased levels of alcohol misuse, It’s estimated that, every year, 3-5% of people with cirrhosis will develop liver cancer.

    Can alcohol cause stomach cancer?

    Alcohol – Stomach cancer risk is higher in people who drink 3 or more units of alcohol each day, compared with people who don’t drink or only drink occasionally. The government recommends that people drink less than 14 units a week.

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