Drinking alcohol may be socially acceptable in small amounts, but if you are a heavy drinker, you are putting your health at risk. We all know that drinking too much causes long-term health problems, not least cirrhosis of the liver, but are you aware that alcohol abuse can raise the risk of seven different types of cancer?
Drinking alcohol in small amounts is not a hugely risky behavior, but once you start drinking heavily over an extended period of time, your risk of developing an alcohol related cancer grows exponentially. Research has indicated that 3.5% of all cancer deaths in the U.S. are linked to alcohol consumption, so there is a very clear link between the two. If you are a heavy drinker and you need help, make an appointment at a drug rehab and alcohol treatment center.
The main types of cancer associated with alcohol are as follows:
Alcohol passes through the mouth, so cancers of the oral cavity, in particular the upper throat, are very common in alcoholics. The risk is even greater if you smoke or chew tobacco.
Cancer of the larynx or voice box is strongly linked to alcohol and tobacco. Heavy drinkers are three times more likely to develop cancer of the vocal cords and the area around the vocal cords.
The main type of cancer affecting the esophagus is esophageal squamous cell carcinoma and alcohol is the biggest risk factor. The less you drink, the lower your chance of developing esophageal cancer.
Women who drink heavily are more likely to develop breast cancer. The Million Women Study in the UK included in excess of 28,000 women diagnosed with breast cancer. Researchers found that for every 10 grams of alcohol a woman drank per day, her risk of breast cancer increased by 12%.
Alcohol abuse is linked to primary liver cancer. We know that heavy drinkers often suffer from cirrhosis of the liver, but what you might not be aware of is that cirrhosis causes significant scar tissue in the liver, which raises the risk of cancer developing. Most patients who have been diagnosed with liver cancer have some degree of cirrhosis.
Most people don’t associate colon cancer with heavy alcohol consumption, but the truth is that alcohol abuse does raise your risk of developing cancers of the colon. Alcoholics are also more likely to develop cancer of the rectum, too. In both cases, the risk increase is modest, but these types of cancer are often diagnosed rather late in the day when treatment is less effective.
These are the most common types of cancer associated with alcohol abuse, but heavy drinkers are also more susceptible to other types of cancer, including cancers of the bladder, stomach, prostate, ovarian cancer and uterine cancer.
The important thing to remember is that your cancer risk factors begin to fall as soon as you stop drinking alcohol, so it is never too late to give your lifestyle an overhaul.