Are There Any Health Benefits From Drinking Alcohol
You may have heard that drinking alcohol can be good for the heart. But the NHS alcohol guidelines say that the evidence is not clear and that there is no completely safe level of drinking. You should not drink alcohol for health benefits. The risk of cancer increases even drinking small amounts of alcohol.
For more information about alcohol and heart health visit the British Heart Foundations website.
But Is It Really That Simple
Breast cancer is by far the most common cancer in women in the UK with one in eight women developing the disease during their lifetime.
But scientists say they can’t explain why the cancer occurs in some people and not in others.
There are numerous causes and lots of factors to take into account, including lifestyle, hormone levels and other medical conditions.
Basically, it’s a complex picture and there’s no point focusing on one factor only.
How Much Alcohol Increases The Risk
Even low levels of alcohol consumption can increase a womans risk of breast cancer.
What might be less well known is that the risk of breast cancer is greater among women who start drinking at an early age. Women who drink around two standard drinks a day through their teens and early twenties are three times more likely to develop breast cancer than those who do not drink.
Alcohol intake is linked to breast cancer risk, the more you drink the higher the risk.
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Why Do I Feel Guilty When I Drink
Im not sure.
Guilt comes from a different place for everyone, and its a common theme for survivors. While theres no data to support my response, Ill share what I know from my graduate studies in health psychology and personal experience.
Guilt is a negative emotion. You can feel guilty for something you DID do. You can feel guilty for something you DIDNT do.
Those of us whove been diagnosed want to live the healthiest life we can, for as long as we can.
Regarding alcohol, we know what the research says. We know what our doctors suggest. And yet, at the end of the day, sometimes we just want to ignore all of that. Ignore the fact that we were diagnosed in the first place. Have a glass of wine and forget.
But that can feel like were inviting the cancer back. And if it returns?
This time well know its our fault because we CAUSED it. And that can cause feelings of guilt.
Just like no one food causes cancer, neither can one alcoholic drink. Guilt is an energy sucker. Let. It. Go.
What Does This Report Say
It says there are ways women can lower their risk of breast cancer by focusing on factors they can control, like diet, weight and exercise.
After analysing more than 100 studies that examined the medical history of 12 million women, the report backs up current advice to be aware of alcohol consumption.
The report found evidence that drinking an extra small glass of wine every day increases a woman’s risk of breast cancer after the menopause by 9%.
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Cancers Linked To Alcohol Use
Alcohol use has been linked with cancers of the:
Alcohol probably also increases the risk of cancer of the stomach, and might affect the risk of some other cancers as well.
For each of these cancers, the more alcohol you drink, the higher your cancer risk. But for some types of cancer, most notably breast cancer, consuming even small amounts of alcohol can increase risk.
Cancers of the mouth, throat, voice box, and esophagus: Alcohol use clearly raises the risk of these cancers. Drinking and smoking together raises the risk of these cancers many times more than drinking or smoking alone. This might be because alcohol can help harmful chemicals in tobacco get inside the cells that line the mouth, throat, and esophagus. Alcohol may also limit how these cells can repair damage to their DNA caused by the chemicals in tobacco.
Liver cancer: Long-term alcohol use has been linked to an increased risk of liver cancer. Regular, heavy alcohol use can damage the liver, leading to inflammation and scarring, which might be why it raises the risk of liver cancer.
Colon and rectal cancer: Alcohol use has been linked with a higher risk of cancers of the colon and rectum. The evidence for this is generally stronger in men than in women, but studies have found the link in both sexes.
Your Boobs On Booze: How Alcohol Affects Your Breast Health
Darlings, first the good news. You have a choice about how estrogen works for or against you in your body. The bad news is that the latest, best evidence shows that 3 or more servings of alcohol per week may increase your risk of breast cancer quite seriously. Three. Per week. Most women I know drink this in 1 to 2 nights. Read on from my friend and colleague, Dr. Waldman, about how booze affects your boobs.
By Dr. Helayne Waldman, Ed.D, CNE, Author of The Whole Food Guide for Breast Cancer Survivors.
Its true. Though your heart may beat more melodically thanks to a daily glass of red wine, your breasts will likely sing a different tune after a glass of brewsky.
Lets face it: boobs and alcohol dont mix. In fact, for some time now, the use of alcohol has been statistically linked to a higher risk of breast cancer. And that risk goes up with every drink you take. For example, those of us who imbibe two to five drinks a day have about 1 ½ times the risk of those who abstain. And a study just out in March reports that even one drink a day raises risk slightly with risk rising in relationship to quantity and frequency.
If you feel you cant live without your vino, beer or black Russian, here are some things to think about to make it a safer experience for you and your breasts:
In a nutshell, think before you drink!
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How Can I Reduce My Risk Of Breast Cancer
Cut back on alcohol: When it comes to alcohol and reducing your risk of breast cancer, no amount of alcohol is completely risk-free but the less you drink the lower the risk.
Be active: Exercise and physical activity reduces the risk of breast cancer.
Stay a healthy weight: Staying a healthy weight is especially important in reducing the risk of breast cancer after the menopause as well as reducing the risk of other cancers.
Breastfeeding: Breastfeeding lowers the risk of developing breast cancer. The longer you breastfeed the more the risk is reduced.
Get screened: BreastCheck is the national breast screening programme. All women aged 50 to 64 are invited to have a free mammogram every 2 years. For more information see www.breastcheck.ie
What Does The American Cancer Society Recommend
According to the American Cancer Society Guideline for Diet and Physical Activity for Cancer Prevention, it is best not to drink alcohol. People who choose to drink alcohol should limit their intake to no more than 2 drinks per day for men and 1 drink a day for women.
The recommended limit is lower for women because of their smaller body size and because their bodies tend to break down alcohol more slowly.
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Does Drinking Wine Cause Cancer
I enjoy a glass of wine most days, but Ive heard that it presents the same cancer risk as smoking. Is this really true?
Andrew Weil, M.D. | May 3, 2019
A study from the UK published in March found that drinking a bottle of wine per week presents the same risk of cancer as smoking five to 10 cigarettes per week. According to the studys corresponding author, Theresa J. Hydes of the University Hospital Southampton NHS Foundation Trust, the intent was to determine purely in terms of cancer risk how many cigarettes are there in a bottle of wine. The study showed that the equivalent is five cigarettes for men and 10 for women.
The investigators hoped to draw public attention to the fact that drinking moderate amounts of alcohol such as a bottle of wine per week can increase the risk of cancer, particularly breast cancer. Men are at greater risk of cancers of the gastrointestinal tract. In non-smoking men, drinking one bottle of wine weekly increases the lifetime risk of cancer by one percent. For women it adds up to 1.4 percent.
The study also showed that drinking three bottles of wine per week is linked to an absolute increase of lifetime cancer risk for men of 1.9 percent and in women, 3.6 percent meaning that an additional 19 of 1,000 men would develop cancer as would 36 of 1,000 women. That increase would be equivalent to the risk posed by smoking about eight cigarettes per week for men and 23 cigarettes per week for women.
Andrew Weil, M.D.
What The Research Says About The Link Between Alcohol And Breast Cancer
Besides maybe soy, I dont think any food or beverage causes more controversy or confusion than alcohol.
Heres the bottom line:
Theres strong evidence that alcohol consumption increases the risk of an initial diagnosis for both pre- and post-menopausal breast cancer.
But you and I, my dear reader, have already been diagnosed, treated and recovered from breast cancer. Were classified as survivors, eh?
What about us?
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How Big Is The Risk
There are some risk factors for breast cancer that we have no control over, like getting older or family history .
Alcohol is only one risk factor for developing breast cancer however it is one we can control.
Its estimated that 1 in 8 breast cancer cases in Ireland are linked to alcohol.
Worryingly, the 2016 Healthy Ireland survey found that just 16% of women aged 15-24 know that alcohol can cause breast cancer.
Alcohol is a risk factor we can control.
How Alcohol Raises Breast Cancer Risk
Alcohol increases the risk of several medical illnesses , as well as many types of cancer .
According to the U.S Department of Health and Human Services, alcoholic beverages are considered to be carcinogens . In addition to causing cancer, alcohol facilitates cancer growth when cancer has already started.
Alcohol promotes the initiation and growth of cancer through several mechanisms, including:
- Liver disease: Alcohol often leads to liver failure. The liver is involved with many physiological functions, including maintaining healthy immunity. Because the immune system helps fight cancer, liver impairment can give cancer a greater chance of enlarging and spreading.
- Oxidative stress: Alcohol metabolism increases oxidative stress, a byproduct of normal metabolism that induces damage to DNA, which can initiate cancer.
- Breakdown of tissue: Alcohol consumption results in toxic byproducts that break down tissues throughout the body. If a person has cancer, the breakdown of epithelial tissue facilitates metastasis of cancer.
In addition to these general carcinogenic effects, alcohol raises the risk of breast cancer specifically by increasing estrogen levels, especially estradiol and estrone. Higher estrogen levels elevate the risk of breast cancer, and chronic or irregular exposure to elevated estrogen can have a lasting effect on breast cancer risk, increasing the chances of developing the disease years down the road.
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Wine Vs Breast Cancer
A recent study looked at moderate drinkers alcohol intake and correlated it to their relative risk of cancer. The study showed that the relative risk of cancer increased for women drinkers from anywhere from 59% and everyone got scared .
What the study didnt do though, was separate out the different types of alcohol and show relative risks for each type. After the study came out it received a great deal of rigorous critique from the science community and members from the International Scientific Forum on Alcohol Research crunched the numbers:
But What About Recurrence
Before you head to the bar, however, keep in mind that Li didnât look at whether drinking alcohol could trigger a recurrence, either local or metastatic. He only looked at whether drinking could be linked to death â from breast cancer or something else.
âThere are other studies that have linked alcohol consumption to risks of having both a breast cancer recurrence or of developing a second breast cancer,â he said. âThese are also important outcomes because they typically lead to more treatment, potentially including surgery, radiation, and chemotherapy, and so they can take significant physical and emotional tolls.â
Li specifically studies how lifestyle factors like alcohol use, obesity and smoking can affect the risk of contracting breast cancer.
His 2009 study revealed breast cancer survivors who smoked and drank more than one drink a day were seven times more likely to get an ER+ breast cancer in their other breast than women who drank fewer than seven drinks a week and didnât smoke.
Breast cancer oncologist and researcher Dr. Julie Gralow said she wasnât surprised by Liâs findings.
âWeâve never had data about alcohol intake after a breast cancer diagnosis,â she said. âSo this is new information. But frankly, Iâm not surprised. Iâve always told my patients that data on alcohol intake was much stronger regarding incidence of breast cancer versus recurrence.â
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What Happens To Cancer Risk After A Person Stops Drinking Alcohol
Most of the studies that have examined whether cancer risk declines after a person stops drinking alcohol have focused on head and neck cancers and on esophageal cancer. In general, these studies have found that stopping alcohol consumption is not associated with immediate reductions in cancer risk. The cancer risks eventually decline, although it may take years for the risks of cancer to return to those of never drinkers.
For example, ex-drinkers still had higher risks of oral cavity and pharyngeal cancers than never drinkers even 16 years after they stopped drinking alcohol, although it was lower than before they stopped drinking . One study estimated that it would take more than 35 years for the higher risks of laryngeal and pharyngeal cancers associated with alcohol consumption to decrease to the level of never drinkers .
Cancer Risk: Bottle Of Wine Equals 5
April 3, 2019 — Drinking a bottle of wine each week is the same as smoking five to 10 cigarettes a week when it comes to raising the risk of getting cancer, according to a new study thatâs gotten widespread mainstream news coverage.
The United Kingdom study was both lambasted and praised by experts approached by Medscape Medical News.
For women, drinking one bottle of wine per week increased the absolute lifetime risk of cancer to the same level as smoking 10 cigarettes a week, largely driven by a higher risk of breast cancer.
Among men, drinking a bottle of wine each week boosted the absolute lifetime risk of cancer equal to smoking five cigarettes.
The findings were published online March 28 in BMC Public Health. While many published reports and research have looked at the cancer risks of both cigarettes and alcohol, this is the first paper to compare them head-to-head. “We simply performed a calculation based on data from previous large â¦ studies,” says lead author Theresa Hydes, PhD, a hepatology clinical fellow at the University Hospital Southampton, England. She says the cigarettes equivalent was used primarily to help raise public awareness of the cancer risk of alcohol.
“The public associates alcohol with liver disease but are generally not aware that it is the fifth leading cause of cancer and, of course, drinking rates are continuing to increase in many countries,” Hydes said.
Two experts not involved in the study had different opinions of it.
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Alcohol And Cancer Risk
Thereâs no question alcohol raises your cancer risk.
According to the American Cancer Society, itâs been linked to cancers of the mouth, throat, larynx, esophagus, liver, colon, rectum and breast. And research also shows the risk is âdose-dependent,â i.e., the more you drink, the more youâre at risk. One drink a day and your breast cancer risk goes up about 10 percent, Li said. Two drinks a day, it goes up 20 percent.
Women who imbibe are particularly at risk for estrogen-receptor-positive, or ER+ breast cancer, since studies have shown that alcohol increases the level of estrogen in postmenopausal women. Unfortunately, thereâs no evidence on what booze does to pre-menopausal womenâs estrogen level because thereâs too much âvariabilityâ in their estrogen to nail down a finding.
âThe effect of the ovary-producing hormones just overwhelms any other effect of alcohol,â Li said âItâs really postmenopausal ER+ breast cancer where the risk appears to be the strongest.â
So how can even light drinking be bad for healthy women and yet somehow not so bad for those whoâve been diagnosed with breast cancer?
Itâs all about risk.
After adjusting for a slew of potential âconfoundersâ such as age, income, family history of breast cancer, smoking status and BMI, the results continually pointed to the same thing.
Breast Cancer And Wine: Drinking Just 1 Glass A Day Can Significantly Increase Women’s Cancer Risk
For a while now, researchers have boasted the health benefits of red wine, including a lower risk of heart disease and degenerative diseases like Alzheimers. In which case, drinking a glass of wine a day seems harmless, even beneficial. But a team of researchers from Harvard TH Chan School of Public Health and Brigham and Womens Hospital in Boston have busted our wine-infused bubble, finding that just that one glass can increase the risk of breast cancer.
According to the study, alcohol consumption has already been linked to a variety of cancers, including colorectal, liver, and esophageal cancer. But for the most part, that risk was applied more so to heavy drinkers. Now, researchers have expanded the breadth of their analysis to include light to moderate drinkers, examining imbibers all across the nation in what they believe to be the largest study to date.
Researchers looked at how light, standard drinking could influence cancer risk. In this study, a standard drink meant consuming 15 grams of alcohol, or 118 milliliters of wine and/or 355 mL of beer. Furthermore, it meant one drink for women and two for men. Researchers also estimated this risk in conjunction with smoking.
In response to the latter findings, Dr. Jürgen Rehm from the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health in Toronto said that we cannot ignore this potential risk.
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