Can alcohol cause cancer? Alcohol, like anything in life, is damaging when consumed in excess. And while bad hangovers are enough to point many people to the fact that excessive drinking can be harmful to the body, alcohol addiction can leave alcoholics with profound health issues, including cirrhosis of the liver, heart problems and even cancer.
In fact, excessive alcohol intake has been shown to be a leading contributor to premature death of any cause, and mounting evidence suggests that alcohol addiction contributes to the following types of cancer:
- Throat (pharynx)
- Colon and rectum
- Voice box (larynx)
The main takeaway? Putting down the bottle today will help you avoid chemotherapy, radiation treatments and even the painful surgeries brought on by one of the world’s leading causes of death.
Can alcohol cause cancer? One recent study found that in all cancer cases, one out of every 10 cases in men and one in 33 cases in women were caused by past or current alcohol intake. Another study reported that 3.5% of all cancer deaths were alcohol-related. According to the study, each of those cancer deaths caused 18 years of potential life to be lost.
Can Alcohol Cause Cancer?
In one report, the National Toxicology Program of the US Department of Health and Human Services lists alcoholic beverages as a known carcinogen. The American Cancer Society has also found specific ways that alcohol abuse can cause cancer:
- Damage to body tissues: Alcohol is an irritant, (especially in the mouth and throat areas) and with repeated use, it can damage cells that will, in turn, attempt to repair themselves. This can cause changes in cells that can lead to cancer. In the colon and rectum, naturally-occurring bacteria can turn alcohol into acetaldehyde, which has been proven to cause cancer in lab rats. In the liver, alcohol and its byproduct can cause damage, including inflammation and scarring. While attempting to correct this damage, the liver cells can create mistakes in their DNA, which can become cancerous.
- It enables toxins: Alcohol may slow the body’s ability to break down and rid itself of some harmful chemicals. It may also help harmful toxins, including those in tobacco smoke, enter the cells lining the digestive tract more easily.
- Effects absorption of nutrients: Heavy drinkers have been found to have low levels of the vitamin folate. These low levels may play a role in cancers such as colorectal and breast cancer.
- Effects on body weight: Alcohol contains an abundance of empty calories, and excessive calories can lead to weight gain and obesity, which in turn, increases the risk for developing cancer. Alcohol may also promote growth in cancer cells that are already present.
- Effects on hormones: Alcohol can increase estrogen in the body, which is a hormone that is involved with the creation of breast tissue. In high levels, this can lead to an increased risk of breast cancer in women.
Has Alcohol Abuse Started to Affect Your Health?
The short answer? Yes, alcohol can cause cancer. You may want to stop drinking alcohol but don’t know how. If alcohol addiction has a firm grip on your life, Morningside Recovery can help you gain back your life before your health is severely affected.
Our personalized alcoholism rehab programs may start with alcohol detox programs at our inpatient rehab center, where our highly-trained medical staff can help keep you comfortable every step of the way during detox. Plus, our dynamic addiction treatment services can help you work on the coping tools you will need to stay sober for the long haul.
For more information about how we can help you achieve sustainable sobriety, call us at 855-631-2135. Our helpline is open 24/7 and our specialists will work with you to tailor a treatment option that best fits your needs.