Prevention Series 4 of 8 | Reduce Your Alcohol Intake to Reduce Your Cancer Risk

by Natalie on July 21, 2011

Hello again! Today marks the half way point of my cancer prevention series.

Over the past week or so, I have been featuring the American Institute for Cancer Research’s recommendations for cancer prevention. In case you are just stopping by today, here are the links to all the other articles in the series.

As the title suggests, today we will be discussing alcohol. The AICR recommendation is as follows:

“If consumed at all, limit alcoholic drinks to 2 for men and 1 for women a day”.

Convincing evidence was found in the AICR’s second expert report that alcoholic drinks are a cause of mouth, throat, esophageal, colorectum and breast cancer. The authors of the report explain that newer research has only made the association between alcohol and cancer stronger.

The exact reason why alcohol has this effect is still being explored. Some scientists believe that alcohol directly damages our DNA, putting us at a greater risk for developing cancer. Another thought is that alcohol enhances the entry of carcinogens into our cells.

In the case of breast cancer, alcohol is known to interfere with estrogen regulation in the body. Authors of the expert report state that ample and consistent evidence exists that alcoholic drinks are a cause of both pre and post menopausal breast cancer.

The odds only get worse for smokers. Researchers found that a combination of alcohol and tobacco increases cancer risk more than either one by themselves.

You may be wondering if the antioxidants in red wine help lessen alcohol’s effect on cancer risk. The answer to this question is a big NO. Although antioxidants are protective against cancer, they are not able to outweigh the risk that alcohol poses. We shouldn’t be looking to wine to provide our daily antioxidants anyway. There are plenty of fruits and vegetables out there filled with antioxidants!

Although the AICR recommendation says one drink per day is acceptable for women, try not to make alcohol a daily part of your routine. Because alcohol is linked to breast cancer, it is best to keep the mindset to include alcohol only occasionally in your diet.

For those of you wondering, yes, I consume alcohol on occasion. Every now and then I like to have a glass of wine or beer with dinner. When I choose to drink, I am pretty good about keeping it to only one drink. It is easy for me because I never had the ability to tolerate much alcohol.

Here’s to your prevention!

Tell me what you think! Leave a comment in the comments section below!

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Photo by: theculinarygeek

Marilyn July 21, 2011 at 2:19 pm

Enjoying your prevention series. Very informative. I agree with you that alcohol should be avoided. When I decided not to drink anymore it was an adjustment. Socially it was hard at first. I really do not miss it anymore. I’ll have something to celebrate once in a while for a toast on special occasion. I feel great! There are lots of great none alcoholic drinks out there!

Natalie July 21, 2011 at 3:39 pm

I am happy to hear you are enjoying the series! Avoiding alcohol is really tough in social situations, especially at weddings! When I am at a social event where alcohol is being served, I try to choose a drink that I can enjoy very slowly. I also find that it also helps to set your drink down when talking at an event to avoid unconscious sipping.

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