Excessive alcohol consumption is often blamed for a host of health problems, both physical and mental. According to new guidelines on alcohol consumption by the UK, medical officers have now warned that drinking any level of alcohol has been linked to different cancers.
“Drinking any level of alcohol regularly carries a health risk for anyone, but if men and women limit their intake to no more than 14 units a week it keeps the risk of illness like cancer and liver disease low,” said Sally Davies, the Chief Medical Officer for England.
The UK has implemented the new drinking guidelines, which is based on a Committee on Carcinogenicity report, from 2016 and now recommends only 14 units of alcohol, or 7 pints of beer, a week, for both men and women.
Studies claim that oral cancer is six times more common in alcohol drinkers than in non-drinkers and that women who consume two to five alcoholic drinks per day are more likely to develop breast cancer than women who take just one drink a day or none.
A cancer.org reports says that binge drinking is a leading cause of liver cirrhosis, which is associated with a higher risk of liver cancer. Colon cancer has also been found to be linked to alcohol abuse.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), excessive alcohol consumption is a leading cause of preventable death in the U.S., and contributes to nearly 88,000 premature deaths each year.
Studies indicate that even low level of alcohol consumption ups the risk of death. Considering the devastating effects of alcohol addiction, the American Cancer Society recommends alcohol intake to no more than two drinks per day for men and one drink a day for women.
Association between alcohol and cancer
“Habitual drinking increases the risk of cancer,” says Jurgen Rehm, Ph.D., chairman of the department of addiction policy at the University of Toronto and a senior scientist at the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health, Toronto. Although not everyone who drinks alcohol will develop cancer, scientists believe chronic alcohol to be responsible for deaths caused by certain kinds of cancers. According to experts, certain cancers are more commonly found in people who drink than those who do not.
When a person consumes alcohol, ethanol which is found in alcoholic drinks turns into acetaldehyde – a carcinogen that can damage both DNA and proteins. It also impairs the body’s ability to break down and absorb a variety of nutrients that may be associated with cancer risk, including vitamin A; nutrients in vitamin B complex, such as folate; vitamin C; vitamin D; vitamin E and carotenoids. It also increases estrogen level, adding to the risk of breast cancer.
According to a report by the National Toxicology Program of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, the more alcohol a person drinks, the higher his or her risk of developing an alcohol-associated cancer. The type of alcohol one drinks, be it beer, wine or spirits, doesn’t seem to make any difference as there’s no “safe” limit for alcohol when it comes to cancer. However, the risk can be reduced by drinking in compliance with government guidelines.
Path to recovery
Various studies have suggested that no type of alcohol is better or worse and drinking it in any form is harmful for the human body. Like other deadly diseases, drinking can also get out of control gradually. That’s why it’s important to reconsider your drinking habits and seek help from any of the inpatient alcohol rehab centers as soon as possible.
About the Author
Barbara Odozi is associated with Alcohol Addiction Helpline for many years. The Helpline provides assistance in finding, inpatient alcohol treatment centers.
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