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Does Drinking Alcohol Cause Cancer?

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High amounts of regularly consumed alcohol may increase people’s risk of cancer. Alcohol consumption is linked to seven types of cancer in particular. The correlation between alcohol use and cancer risk depends on a number of factors, but studies overall show that alcohol increases cancer risk.

Alcohol is Linked To The Following Types of Cancer:

  • Liver
  • Esophagus
  • Throat
  • Voicebox
  • Mouth
  • Breast
  • Colon/rectum

Liver cancer is typically linked to long-term alcohol use. Heavy alcohol use on a regular basis causes scarring and inflammation of the liver, which may increase the risk of liver cancer.

Risks for esophagus, throat, voicebox, and mouth cancers are particularly high when drinking alcohol is combined with smoking tobacco. This is because the harmful chemicals in tobacco seep into the cells that line the esophagus, throat, and mouth, and alcohol decreases the ability of these cells to repair themselves.

Alcohol consumption for women can put them at greater risk of breast cancer. Alcohol raises estrogen levels in the body, which may contribute to the increased risk. The risk is also higher in women who do not get enough Vitamin B in their diets.

Colon and rectal cancer are both linked to heavy alcohol use as well, particularly in men, although it can be found in women too.

Are Certain Types of Alcohol Better Than Others?

Whether you’re drinking beer, wine or liquor, your risk of getting cancer is the same. The type of alcohol does not matter. Ethanol is the chemical in alcoholic drinks that are linked to cancer, and a standard-size drink of any type of alcoholic beverage contains the same amount of ethanol.

The amount of alcohol you drink, and how often you drink it, play more of a role than the type of alcohol when it comes to cancer risk.

How Much Can I Drink?

It is recommended that men drink no more than two glasses of alcohol per day, and no more than one a day for women. For women who are petite, less than an once on average is recommended because their bodies break down alcohol more slowly.

Generally, the more a person weighs, the faster it is for their body to process alcohol. A person of average height and weight will typically take about an hour to process a standard-size alcoholic beverage. It will take more time if you are smaller than average and less time for someone above the average.

Contact Gettysburg Cancer Center

At Gettysburg Cancer Center, we treat all types of cancer. We focus on personalized and compassionate patient care. For more information or to schedule an appointment, call us today at 717-334-4033 or fill out our online contact form.