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Drinking alcohol increases the risk of several types of cancer. Even from mild to moderate consumption, the more you drink the greater the risk. Alcohol is a carcinogen that can act in a number of ways to increase the cancer risk of colon and rectum, breast, mouth, throat, larynx, esophagus and liver.
1. Damages tissues
Drinking alcohol can affect the normal functions of your body cells. When broken down in the body, alcohol can be converted to acetaldehyde, a chemical that can damage DNA inside cells and cause cancer.
Alcohol can irritate the mouth and throat. It can also damage the liver, causing inflammation and scarring (cirrhosis). According to the Cancer American Society: “Cells damaged by alcohol may try to repair themselves, which could cause changes in DNA that can be a step towards cancer ”.
2. Oxidative stress
Drinking alcohol can also cause oxidative stress on cells. The National Cancer Institute notes that alcohol can damage DNA, proteins, and lipids (fats) in the body through the process of oxidation.
3. Facilitates the entry and elimination of harmful substances
Alcohol can slow down the body’s ability to break down and get rid of harmful chemicals.
Alcoholic beverages can contain carcinogenic contaminants that are introduced during fermentation and production, such as nitrosamines, asbestos fibers, phenols, and hydrocarbons. Alcohol can also help harmful substances from tobacco enter cells that line the mouth, throat, and esophagus.
4. Affects hormonal levels
Alcohol can increase blood levels of estrogen, a sex hormone linked to the risk of breast cancer. No amount of alcohol is safe, even minimal alcohol consumption increases the risk of breast cancer in women.
5. Affects absorption of nutrients
Drinking alcohol can affect the body’s ability to break down and absorb a variety of nutrients that can be associated with cancer risk. These nutrients include: vitamin A; B vitamins, such as folate; vitamin C; vitamin D; Vitamin E; and carotenoids.
Low folate levels can influence the risk of some cancers, such as breast and colorectal cancer.
6. Contributes to weight gain
Alcoholic beverages contribute to weight gain in some people by providing additional calories. Being overweight and obese increase cancer risks.
Habits such as the consumption of alcohol, tobacco and certain types of foods are risk factors for cancer that people can control.
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