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Most people over the age of 18 like to have a few drinks on a Friday night, but what if I told you that the alcohol you are consuming is affecting your body and increasing your chances of getting cancer. Cancer is a horrible disease that can kill people; even the word cancer sounds nasty; there are many different types of cancer and the chances are that you know someone who has cancer or had cancer. Scientist have been working on the link between cancer and alcohol for the past few years. Although there are many miss conceptions about this topic, scientists are sure that alcohol has a link to cancer, alcohol has had a link to several cancers and health risks. It may not be a direct link but it does have an effect on the human body and cancer cells.
Researchers have been working on this topic for a long time and have come up with ways that alcohol is increasing your chance of getting cancer:
- Alcohol damages body tissue: alcohol acts as an irritant to the throat. Cells that are damaged will try to repair themselves, this can lead to changes in the DNA, a change in your DNA is one step closer to cancer.
- Alcohol can damage the liver: damage to the liver can leads to scarring and inflammation. As the liver tries to repair its self, there are often changes the DNA structure. Alcohol is full of harmful chemicals; alcohol acts as a solvent. These chemical enter the lining of cells. This effects how the body can break down other harmful chemical in your body and can lead to throat, mouth and stomach cancer.
- Foliate: foliate is a special vitamin that the body need to stay healthy, alcohol effects the body’s ability to absorb this vitamin from foods. Without this vitamin you are one step closer to suffering from breast and colorectal cancers.
- Weight gain: Alcohol can make people gain weight; some weight gain is a common factor in some cancers.
- Increasing certain hormones in the body that is linked to some cancer, such as estrogen which is linked to breast cancer.
But what is in the alcohol that is possibly causing cancer? In alcoholic chemicals there are many harmful chemicals that put the drinker at risk of getting cancer, such as nitrosamines, asbestos fibers, phenols, and hydrocarbons. Ethanol is also found in almost all alcoholic drinks, whether it is wine, beer or spirits. Each drink can have a different amount of ethanol in them. The average drink is, 12 ounces of beer and 5 ounces of wine, all contain approximately the same amount of ethanol.
There is a way to avoid cancer and still have a few drinks. The American Cancer Society recommends that those who drink alcohol should keep to a limit, men should have a limit of two while woman a limit of one per day. Women are recommended to drink less then men because their bodies are smaller and break down alcohol slower than men. Although lots of people like to have a few drink there are certain groups of people that should not drink, whether it is age or their risk of suffering from cancer.
- Children and teens
- People who cannot limit their drinking
- Women who are or may become pregnant
- People who drive or operate machinery
- People who take part in activities that require attention, skill, or coordination or in situations where judgment is needed in order to keep people safe
- People taking prescription or over-the-counter medicines that could have an effect with alcohol
- People with certain medical conditions
To limit your chance of getting alcohol related cancer you should limit your intake of alcohol. Also be sure to drink inside the National Health and Medical Research Council Australian Guidelines.
It is possible for anyone to get cancer but some are more likely to get alcohol related cancer. This is because of their genes, specifically the genes that encode enzymes that are involved in metabolizing alcohol. For example: one way that the body can break down alcohol is through the activity of enzymes called the alcohol dehydrogenase (ADH). Some people carry the gene for ‘super active’ form of enzymes. This ‘super active’ ADH speeds the breakdown of alcohol into the toxic substance acetaldehyde. Therefore people who have this form of ADH and drink alcohol end up with a build-up of acetaldehyde, leading to a higher risk of pancreatic cancer than those with the common form of ADH.
In conclusion it is possible that alcohol is causing cancer or is a common factor in causing cancer. Scientist are not finish researching this topic and are making new discoveries all the time. It is important to understand that alcohol is harmful in other ways than just being a common actor in causing cancer. Alcohol intake should be limited and only to drink 2 standard drinks per day; although it does depend on your genes whether you have a higher chance of getting alcohol related cancer.
“Whenever you read a cancer booklet or website or whatever, they always list depression among the side effects of cancer. But, in fact, depression is not a side effect of cancer. Depression is a side effect of dying.” – John Green, The Fault In Our Stars