Alcohol consumption is a risk factor for several different types of cancer, such as cancers of the head and neck, including the mouth, throat (pharynx), and voice box (larynx); breast cancer; and cancers of the gastrointestinal tract, including esophageal cancer, liver cancer, and colorectal cancer. While the risk of developing cancer increases with higher alcohol consumption, imbibing any amount of alcohol increases this risk, regardless of the type of alcohol consumed.
According to a report published in The New England Journal of Medicine, giving up alcoholic drinks or reducing the amount consumed could reduce the risk of getting oral or esophageal cancer. The report found that there was sufficient evidence that reducing or ceasing alcohol intake reduces the risk for oral cavity and esophagus cancer. For oral cancer, ceasing alcohol consumption for five to nine years was linked to a 34% relative risk reduction, and doing so for 10-19 years was linked to a 55% relative risk reduction.
Alcohol can increase your cancer risk in multiple ways, although some of the mechanisms are not yet well understood. Ethanol, which is one of the main components found in most types of alcoholic beverages, is broken down in your body to acetaldehyde. Acetaldehyde is a chemical that can damage DNA and is classified as a probable human carcinogen. Over time, the accumulation of DNA damage can lead to cancer. Additionally, alcohol can create oxidative stress in cells, which happens when there are too many free radicals and not enough antioxidants in your body. This can cause DNA damage and lead to the production of “reactive oxygen species,” a type of free radical that can also lead to cell damage and increased cancer risk.
Reducing alcohol intake decreases the production of acetaldehyde in the body, which in turn, reduces the risk of certain cancers. Researchers and experts agree that continuing abstaining from alcohol is the only way to see long-term, positive health effects. Growing evidence demonstrates the harmful effects of alcohol, including a heightened risk of high blood pressure, heart disease, and liver disease.
In conclusion, reducing alcohol intake is an effective way to lower the risk of developing certain types of cancer. The report published in The New England Journal of Medicine provides evidence that reducing or ceasing alcohol intake reduces the risk for oral cavity and esophagus cancer . It is important to note that imbibing any amount of alcohol increases the risk of developing cancer, regardless of the type of alcohol consumed . Therefore, it is recommended to limit alcohol intake to reduce the risk of cancer and other health problems.