19. Alcohol and Cancer

19. Alcohol and Cancer


First, I want to say that I know today’s topic is depressing and uncomfortable, but we owe it to ourselves to be aware, honest, and communicative about the harsh realities of alcohol.

As we all know and have likely experienced in a very personal way, cancer is one of the most common illnesses and causes of death in the world. What is sometimes not as transparently talked about is the consistent link between alcohol and the increased risk of cancer.

It has been found that drinking alcohol increases the risk of developing the following types of cancers:

  • Head and Neck Cancers - especially cancers of the mouth (oral cavity), throat (pharynx), voice box (larynx)
  • Liver Cancer
  • Oesophageal Cancer
  • Breast Cancer
  • Bowel Cancer

How does this happen?

First, ethanol, the main component of alcohol, is a known carcinogen, and alcoholic beverages can contain at least fifteen other carcinogenic compounds, including formaldehyde, arsenic and lead.

Second, when your body metabolizes and digests alcohol, it produces a toxic chemical called acetaldehyde. Acetaldehyde damages your cells, rendering them incapable of repair and making them more vulnerable to cancer.

Third, alcohol can increase the levels of certain hormones, including estrogen. As messengers in our body, hormones are responsible for giving our cells instructions, such as when to divide. High levels of estrogen is linked with breast cancer, which is one of the most common types of cancer. As I mentioned in the video, 4% of all breast cancer in the UK have been linked to alcohol consumption.

Fourth, alcohol has other devastating effects on the body - such as weakening its ability to process and absorb nutrients, liver damage, weight gain, and overall body fatigue. All of these lessen our body’s vitality, in turn lessening its ability to fight off illness and cancer.

Many people think that if they drink moderately, they are not at risk. But studies have shown that even light drinking is linked to cancer. This association can not be denied… if you drink, no matter how much, you are increasing your risks of developing cancer.

The good news is that as soon as you cut back or quit, you are decreasing that risk.

The fact that you are here reading this means that you are on the right path.

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