How alcohol causes cancer
Alcohol is a Group 1 carcinogen
. This is the highest classification available and means that it is an acknowledged cause of cancer. It is estimated that 2,950 cases of cancer are attributable to long-term chronic use of alcohol each year in Australia.
There is convincing evidence that drinking alcohol increases the risk of cancers of the mouth, throat (pharynx and larynx), oesophagus, bowel in men (colon and rectum), liver and female breast.
There is probable evidence that alcohol increases cancers of the stomach and female bowel.
There are a number of ways that may explain how alcohol causes cancer, such as:
- Alcohol (ethanol in alcoholic drinks) is converted into a toxic chemical called acetaldehyde which causes damage to our DNA and stops cells from repairing.
- Ethanol may also cause direct tissue damage by acting as a solvent for other carcinogens
- Increasing the level of hormones, such as oestrogen, which are linked to breast cancer.
- Indirectly increase cancer risk by contributing to obesity and overweight, which are linked to cancers of the oesophagus, pancreas, breast, bowel.
- Altered folate metabolism, affecting cell function.
Lifestyle factors such as smoking, poor oral hygiene and poor diet may also increase the risk of cancers caused from drinking alcohol regularly.
Drinking less alcohol will reduce your risk of cancer. Drink Less, Live More.