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Understanding the Connection between Alcohol and Cancer

Many people drink alcohol to celebrate or unwind. Some take little amounts of wine to protect their heart. Moderate consumption of alcohol may not lead to cancer, but heavy drinking can increase your risk of developing cancer.

About five percent of cancers are related to alcohol consumption. Alcohol can increase one’s chances of getting cancers of the larynx, mouth, and throat, colorectal, esophagus, breast, and liver cancers. Researchers are still investigating to find out how alcohol influences the risk of cancer.

However, hypotheses show that when you drink alcohol, your body will break it down into acetaldehyde. Acetaldehyde is a toxic chemical that damages DNA causing cells to grow out of control to form tumors that may turn out to be cancerous.

Here are ways alcohol affects your cancer risk:

  • Heavy alcohol consumption elevates estrogen levels, which in turn increases the risk of some breast cancers.
  • Alcohol affects the way the body breaks down and absorbs nutrients such as vitamins A, C, D, and E and carotenoids – which are associated with the risk of cancer.
  • Heavy drinkers consume minimal amounts of folate, which can lead to colon cancer. Generally, drinking or smoking increases cancer risk.

Apart from cancer risks, studies also discovered that consuming alcohol in moderation can raise HDL cholesterol (good cholesterol) levels in the blood. This can reduce the risk of diabetes.

However, excessive drinking is known to damage the liver, increase your blood pressure, cause psychological disorders, pancreatitis, and cardiomyopathy.

It is essential that you make an informed decision when drinking alcohol. Your risk of cancer and other health conditions should guide your drinking habits.

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