Think before you drink! Alcohol causes cancer

Cancer is among the leading causes of death the world over, reports the World Health Organization (WHO). Unfortunately, the numbers are expected to rise by nearly 70 percent within 20 years. The situation remains grim in the United States too. Based on 2008-2012 cases, the American Cancer Society estimates that the rate of cancer incidence is 454.8 per 100,000 men and women per year while the rate of cancer mortality is 171.2 per 100,000 men and women.

Time and again, researchers have pointed out that genetic mutations and abnormal cell growth arise because of the pressures of modern living. But that is not the sole reason; regular consumption of genetically-modified crops, drugs, nicotine, and depletion of the ozone layer are believed to hasten the process of cell mutation as well. Another causative factor is alcohol. Studies attribute 3.6 percent of cancer cases across the globe to drinking. Cancers of the aero-digestive tract, liver, pancreas, colon, rectum, and breast are a consequence of prolonged alcohol consumption.

Dangerous constituents of alcohol

In the past, the primary constituents of fermented drinks were malt, fruit, honey or rice. Now-a-days drinks are flavored with additives such as sulphur dioxide, preservatives, artificial coloring agents such as Mega Purple, and various concentrates for richness and taste. Many fungicides, mycotoxins and phthalates find their way as well into commercial liquor.

The primary constituent of all alcoholic drinks though is ethanol. It is estimated that half an ounce of ethanol in a standard drink is equivalent to 12 ounces of beer and 5 ounces of wine. Stronger drinks could contain higher amounts of ethanol. Along with ethanol, beer contains genetically-modified corn, rice and sugar which have been identified as cancer-causing ingredients. It also contains Monosodium Glutamate (MSG), Propylene Glycol, Calcium Disodium EDTA, caramel coloring, insect-based dyes, and artificial food coloring ingredients. The can liners are often made of a chemical compound, bisphenol-A (BPA), which increases susceptibility to various cancers.  

Types of cancer

Prolonged alcohol consumption can be dangerous for the body. It causes irritation in the mucous membrane underlining the mouth and the throat. When cells try to repair themselves, DNA changes arise. Further down in the digestive tract of the body, alcohol is broken down into acetaldehyde, a carcinogenic chemical.

Liver cancer and alcohol: Prolonged consumption of alcohol is harmful for the liver as it can handle only small amounts of alcohol. Acetaldehyde, a byproduct of alcohol metabolism, is toxic and causes the cells in the liver to grow faster than usual.

Breast cancer and alcohol: Alcohol increases estrogen levels and other hormones associated with hormone-receptor-positive breast cancer. The risk is high in women who do not include sufficient amounts of folate in their diet.

Skin cancer (melanoma) and alcohol: A past study investigated the link between alcohol and melanoma, a malignant form of skin cancer, which develops in the melanocytes- the cells responsible for the skin color. It found higher rates of invasive melanoma in white men and women who drank white wine. The risk of cancer was more in body parts that were not exposed often to sun such as the head, neck and trunk.

Help at hand

Alcohol addiction is a chronic disease and, if left untreated, can take a toll on one’s physical and psychological health. Fortunately, it is treatable with timely intervention. The Florida Alcohol Addiction Helpline can provide you with a host of information on treatment modalities. Our specialists can help you connect to the best alcohol rehab centers in Florida. Call our 24/7 helpline (866) 220-5381 or chat with a representative to find out more about alcohol dependence treatment in Florida.