Al­co­hol and can­cer risk

The Covington News - - LOCAL -

Though the ex­act de­tails of how al­co­hol in­creases can­cer risk are un­known, the Amer­i­can Can­cer So­ci­ety notes there are sev­eral dif­fer­ent ways that al­co­hol may con­trib­ute to a per­son’s el­e­vated risk of de­vel­op­ing can­cer.

* Tis­sue dam­age: Al­co­hol can be an ir­ri­tant in the mouth and throat as well as other ar­eas of the body, forc­ing dam­aged cells to re­pair them­selves. That forc­ing of the hand may lead to DNA changes in the cells, and such changes may act as a step­ping­stone to can­cer. Al­co­hol also can cause in­flam­ma­tion and scar­ring in the liver, and as liver cells at­tempt to re­pair that dam­age, mis­takes in the DNA may re­sult, in­creas­ing a per­son’s risk for can­cer. In the colon and rec­tum, bac­te­ria can con­vert al­co­hol into ac­etalde­hyde, a chem­i­cal which stud­ies have shown causes can­cer in lab an­i­mals.

* Body weight: Ex­ces­sive con­sump­tion of al­co­hol of­ten causes peo­ple to gain weight, and be­ing over­weight or obese is a ma­jor risk fac­tor for var­i­ous types of can­cer.

* Hor­mones: Women who con­sume al­co­hol may be prone to el­e­vated lev­els of es­tro­gen, a hor­mone as­so­ci­ated with hor­mone-re­cep­tor-pos­i­tive breast can­cer that plays a sig­nif­i­cant role in the growth and de­vel­op­ment of breast tis­sue. Ac­cord­ing to Breast­, when com­pared to women who ab­stain from al­co­hol, women who have three al­co­holic drinks per week have a 15 per­cent higher risk of de­vel­op­ing breast can­cer, and that may be a byprod­uct of the ef­fect al­co­hol has on a woman’s hor­mone lev­els.

* Ef­fect on harm­ful

chem­i­cals: Al­co­hol can dis­solve other harm­ful chem­i­cals, in­clud­ing those found in to­bacco smoke, mak­ing it eas­ier for them to en­ter the cells lin­ing the up­per di­ges­tive tract. The ACS the­o­rizes that this may play a role in why the com­bi­na­tion of smoking and drink­ing is far more likely to cause can­cers in the mouth or throat than ei­ther smoking or drink­ing alone. * Ef­fect on nu­tri­ents: The body’s cells need a vi­ta­min called fo­late to stay healthy. But al­co­hol con­sump­tion can com­pro­mise the body’s abil­ity to ab­sorb fo­late from foods, which is es­pe­cially prob­lem­atic for heavy drinkers who do not get enough nu­tri­ents in their daily di­ets. Low fo­late lev­els have been linked to breast and col­orec­tal can­cers.

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