Drinking too much alcohol, over time or on a single occasion, can take a serious toll on your health. It interferes with the work of many important organs in the body thus disrupting the person’s behavior and mood. In relation to these side-effects of alcohol, one important question arises, does drinking alcohol cause cancer?
Does Drinking Alcohol Cause Cancer?
According to a study published in Addiction, alcohol can cause liver, rectum, esophagus, colon, larynx, oropharynx and breast cancer.
Another epidemiological study claims that alcohol consumption contributes up to 5.8% to all cancer deaths worldwide.
However, the research did not show the biological relationship between cancer and alcohol. The confirmation of the mechanisms that increased each type of cancer did not indicate that alcohol is the right cause.
In the past 12 years, the percent of deaths related to cancer and alcohol has increased by 62%, from nearly 4% in 2003 to nearly 6% in 2015.
This rapid increase of cancer can be triggered by alcohol. Further on, other factors such as lack of exercise, poor lifestyle habits and poor sleep quality develop cancer even more.
According to another study, light drinking is another potential cause of cancer.
The experts have reviewed around 136,000 participants over a 30-year period and discovered that those who smoked, even if they had quit, have a higher risk of cancer than those who never smoked.
So, smoking turns to be an important factor that can contribute to alcohol-related cancers.
Alcohol-Related Breast Cancer Recurrence
Once again, we will start with the question does drinking alcohol cause cancer in women?
According to the American Cancer Society, even a few drinks per week can significantly increase the risk of breast cancer. Women with low folate levels tend to have a higher risk of breast cancer.
Other researchers found out that the recurrence of breast cancer has to do with alcohol intake. This can be a result of alcohol’s ability to increase the level of estrogen.
Does drinking alcohol cause cancer in men?
Also, alcohol affects the level of hormones in men. Chronic alcohol consumption can cause male infertility and testicular failure.
Because of the feminine symptoms in men, alcohol can contain active phytoestrogens. These compounds naturally occur in flax seeds, soy, lentils, wheat and sesame seeds and are structurally similar to the estrogen that your body produces.
The soy-based products in Asia tend to have lower breast cancer rates while that’s not the case in the USA. This can be a result of the different amount and type of phytoestrogen plant-based products consumed between these continents.
Also, the increased rates of estrogen are linked to the increased rates of cell growth in the development of growth of breast and prostate cancers.
These effects were observed in people who drink alcohol in moderate amounts. So, a moderate consumption does not increase the risk of prostate cancer in men and breast cancer in women.
Nowadays, Colon Cancer Affects More People Under 50
Does drinking alcohol cause cancer even under 50? Yes, one particular type of cancer, related to the consumption of alcohol is the colon cancer. According to the study published in the journal Cancer, 1 person out of 7, diagnosed with cancer was under 50.
So, does this mean that drinking alcohol causes cancer in the colon even under 50? Definitely yes! Younger people tend to develop symptoms of this disease such as bloody stool, bowel blockage or anemia even under the age of 50.
The International Agency for Research into Cancer established the relationship between alcohol consumption and colon cancer. In 1988, it classified alcohol as the Group 1 carcinogen.
According to substantial evidence of IARC, alcohol is the highest category risk. Another study from 2011 pointed out that around 4% of the cancers in the UK have some relationship with alcohol.
However, alcohol consumption leads to the greatest number of colorectal cancer cases and to the greatest proportion of throat and mouth cancers.
In 2004, Nutrition and Cancer has published a study which found that there is a 70% greater risk of colon cancer in people who drink more than one alcoholic drink on a daily basis.
The type of alcohol was not a significant factor, and it does not matter whether the participants drank wine, beer or hard liquor.
The Risk Starts Right in The Mouth
One specific compound that plays an important role in the development of cancer from alcohol is acetaldehyde.
This metabolite of alcohol can damage your DNA and prevent your body repair this damage. Also, this compound is linked to cancers in the liver, esophagus, mouth, pharynx and larynx.
It’s the liver that breaks down alcohol thus forming acetaldehyde. This metabolite stimulates the growth of liver cells which sometimes can be genetically mutated. In fact, this is the process that can bring about the liver cancer.
Also, the bacteria living in the mouth and gut can break down alcohol. In this way, the level of acetaldehyde increases, and the larynx, pharynx, mouth and esophagus expose themselves to cellular DNA damage and increased risk of oral cancer.
Acetaldehyde can also reside in different food flavorings and tobacco. This metabolite is seen as a significant direct source of cancer and researchers insist on reduction of the amount of acetaldehyde in alcohol in order to reduce the cancer risk.
Sugar, Another Key Contributor to Cancer
Since it is a carbohydrate, the body metabolizes alcohol into sugar thus increasing the level of high blood sugar and insulin resistance. Since it has no nutritional value, alcohol can be classified as empty calories which can significantly contribute to obesity worldwide.
Alcohol is one carbohydrate-rich food that can double the risk of cancer by increasing the level of acetaldehyde and the risk of obesity.
In 2013, the Credit Suisse Research Institute found that 40% of the healthcare expenditures are for diseases which are related to increased consumption of sugar.
According to recent researches, there are new cancer cases in 30-year adults with high BMI or those who are obese and overweight. Around 25% of the cancer cases in 2012 can be directly related to the increased BMI.
Without sugar, cancer cells can’t produce the needed energy to survive so by reducing the intake of carbs; you literally starve the cancerous cells.
For example, one 5-ounce of wine contains 4 g of carbs, one beer contains 13 g, and 5-ounce cocktail contains 10 g. So, you can see that just one glass of some alcoholic beverage can significantly increase your intake of carbohydrates and increase the risk of insulin resistance, obesity, and cancer.
Nutritional Ketosis in Cancer Treatment
According to the conventional teaching, nuclear genetic defects do not lead to cancer. However, it’s the mitochondrial damage that happens first and further on it triggers nuclear genetic mutations.
For this condition, the nutritional ketosis is the right solution. It includes a diet rich in high-quality fats and limits the intake of net carbs thus boosting mitochondrial function. In this way, fats burn more easily, and this is much better fuel than sugar itself.