Alcoholism facts the unknown uncommon facts Alcoholism facts and statistics 2015 Alcoholism facts family Alcoholism facts uk Alcoholism facts australia Alcoholism facts genetics Alcoholism facts canada Alcoholism facts and statistics 2013 Alcoholism facts. Alcohol and Cancer Risk Fact Sheet - National Cancer Institute

Alcohol is the common term for ethanol or ethyl alcohol, a chemical substance found in beer, wine, and liquor, as well as in some medicines, mouthwashes, household products, and essential oils (scented liquids taken from plants). Alcohol is produced by the fermentation of sugars and starches by yeast. Alcoholism facts.

The main types of alcoholic drinks and their alcohol content are as follows:

Beers and hard ciders: 3-7 percent alcohol

Wines, including sake: 9-15 percent alcohol

Wines fortified with liquors, such as port: 16-20 percent alcohol

Liquor, or distilled spirits, such as gin, rum, vodka, and whiskey, which are produced by distilling the alcohol from fermented grains, fruits, or vegetables: usually 35-40 percent alcohol (70-80 proof), but can be higher

According to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, a standard alcoholic drink in the United States contains 14.0 grams (0.6 ounces) of pure alcohol. Generally, this amount of pure alcohol is found in

1.5 ounces or a "shot" of 80-proof liquor

Alcoholism facts the unknown uncommon facts Alcoholism facts and statistics 2015 Alcoholism facts family Alcoholism facts uk Alcoholism facts australia Alcoholism facts genetics Alcoholism facts canada Alcoholism facts and statistics 2013 Alcoholism facts

The federal government’s Dietary Guidelines for Americans 2010 defines moderate alcohol drinking as up to one drink per day for women and up to two drinks per day for men. Heavy alcohol drinking is defined as having more than three drinks on any day or more than seven drinks per week for women and more than four drinks on any day or more than 14 drinks per week for men.

What is the evidence that alcohol drinking is a cause of cancer?

Esophageal cancer : Alcohol consumption is a major risk factor for a particular type of esophageal cancer called esophageal squamous cell carcinoma ( 2 ). In addition, people who inherit a deficiency in an enzyme that metabolizes alcohol have been found to have substantially increased risks of alcohol-related esophageal squamous cell carcinoma.

Breast cancer : More than 100 epidemiologic studies have looked at the association between alcohol consumption and the risk of breast cancer in women. These studies have consistently found an increased risk of breast cancer associated with increasing alcohol intake. A meta-analysis of 53 of these studies (which included a total of 58,000 women with breast cancer) showed that women who drank more than 45 grams of alcohol per day (approximately three drinks) had 1.5 times the risk of developing breast cancer as nondrinkers (a modestly increased risk) ( 7 ). The risk of breast cancer was higher across all levels of alcohol intake: for every 10 grams of alcohol consumed per day (slightly less than one drink), researchers observed a small (7 percent) increase in the risk of breast cancer.  

The Million Women Study in the United Kingdom (which included more than 28,000 women with breast cancer) provided a more recent, and slightly higher, estimate of breast cancer risk at low to moderate levels of alcohol consumption: every 10 grams of alcohol consumed per day was associated with a 12 percent increase in the risk of breast cancer ( 8 ).

Colorectal cancer: Alcohol consumption is associated with a modestly increased risk of cancers of the colon and rectum. A meta-analysis of 57 cohort and case-control studies that examined the association between alcohol consumption and colorectal cancer risk showed that people who regularly drank 50 or more grams of alcohol per day (approximately 3.5 drinks) had 1.5 times the risk of developing colorectal cancer as nondrinkers or occasional drinkers ( 9 ). For every 10 grams of alcohol consumed per day, there was a small (7 percent) increase in the risk of colorectal cancer.

Research on alcohol consumption and other cancers:

Alcoholism facts the unknown uncommon facts Alcoholism facts and statistics 2015 Alcoholism facts family Alcoholism facts uk Alcoholism facts australia Alcoholism facts genetics Alcoholism facts canada Alcoholism facts and statistics 2013 Alcoholism facts

Numerous studies have examined the association between alcohol consumption and the risk of other cancers, including cancers of the pancreas, ovary, prostate, stomach, uterus, and bladder. For these cancers, either no association with alcohol use has been found or the evidence for an association is inconsistent.  

However, for two cancers— renal cell (kidney) cancer and non-Hodgkin lymphoma (NHL)—multiple studies have shown that increased alcohol consumption is associated with a decreased risk of cancer ( 10, 11 ). A meta-analysis of the NHL studies (which included 18,759 people with NHL) found a 15 percent lower risk of NHL among alcohol drinkers compared with nondrinkers ( 11 ). The mechanisms by which alcohol consumption would decrease the risks of either renal cell cancer or NHL are not understood.

How does alcohol increase the risk of cancer?

How does the combination of alcohol and tobacco affect cancer risk?

Can a person’s genes affect their risk of alcohol-related cancers?

A person’s risk of alcohol -related cancers is influenced by their genes, specifically the genes that encode enzymes involved in metabolizing (breaking down) alcohol ( 13 ).

For example, one way the body metabolizes alcohol is through the activity of an enzyme called alcohol dehydrogenase, or ADH. Many individuals of Chinese, Korean, and especially Japanese descent carry a version of the gene for ADH that codes for a "superactive" form of the enzyme. This superactive ADH enzyme speeds the conversion of alcohol (ethanol) to toxic acetaldehyde. As a result, when people who have the superactive enzyme drink alcohol, acetaldehyde builds up. Among people of Japanese descent, those who have this superactive ADH have a higher risk of pancreatic cancer than those with the more common form of ADH ( 14 ).

Alcoholism facts the unknown uncommon facts Alcoholism facts and statistics 2015 Alcoholism facts family Alcoholism facts uk Alcoholism facts australia Alcoholism facts genetics Alcoholism facts canada Alcoholism facts and statistics 2013 Alcoholism facts

Another enzyme, called aldehyde dehydrogenase 2 (ALDH2), metabolizes toxic acetaldehyde to non-toxic substances. Some people, particularly those of East Asian descent, carry a variant of the gene for ALDH2 that codes for a defective form of the enzyme. In people who have the defective enzyme, acetaldehyde builds up when they drink alcohol. The accumulation of acetaldehyde has such unpleasant effects (including facial flushing and heart palpitations) that most people who have inherited the ALDH2 variant are unable to consume large amounts of alcohol. Therefore, most people with the defective form of ALDH2 have a low risk of developing alcohol-related cancers. 

However, some individuals with the defective form of ALDH2 can become tolerant to the unpleasant effects of acetaldehyde and consume large amounts of alcohol. Epidemiologic studies have shown that such individuals have a higher risk of alcohol-related esophageal cancer, as well as of head and neck cancers, than individuals with the fully active enzyme who drink comparable amounts of alcohol ( 15 ). These increased risks are seen only among people who carry the ALDH2 variant and drink alcohol—they are not observed in people who carry the variant but do not drink alcohol.

Can drinking red wine help prevent cancer?

What happens to cancer risk after a person stops drinking alcohol?

Is it safe for someone to drink alcohol while undergoing cancer chemotherapy?

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