Alcohol Raises Cancer Risk



John White

Drinking alcoholic beverages is often done as a way of relaxing and socializing. So, this recent news about a research study showing drinking alcohol increases cancer risk is unlikely to be popular with drinkers. In fact, there have been number of research studies showing there are some health benefits – probably due to the social life associated with drinking, not with the chemical effects. Additionally, one must wonder who funded research showing health benefits to drinking. This particular study showing an increase in cancer risk was conducted at the National Cancer Institute. This organization is part of the National Institutes of Health and the federal government. They don’t receive funding from corporations. So, one would hope they don’t have a hidden agenda.

“Alcohol has been known to be related to causing cancer for a long period of time. We talk about cancer prevention, screenings and tests. This is one of those things that seems to be missing in plain sight,” said Dr. David Nelson, lead author of the study and a director at the National Cancer Institute. (Source: Seattle Times) The increase in cancer risk for women drinkers was for breast cancer, by 15%. The increase for male drinkers was for mouth and throat cancers.

18,000 to 21,000 people in the United States died from alcohol-related cancers in 2009. Many also died from alcohol-related vehicle accidents. Obviously, the thing that ties these fatalities together is alcohol. Annually, Americans spend about $59 billion on alcohol, according to the Chicago Tribune. Clearly, part of the motivation for drinking alcohol is the addictive aspect. Most people today probably understand alcohol is addictive, and can be very addictive for some individuals.

What is a person to do though, who has relied upon alcohol at the end of a work day to help relax? One answer is simply deep breathing, because it is very effective and has no damaging side effects, like alcohol. Rhythmic breathing is similar and it can help restore the brain’s calmness. Breathing in while counting to four and exhaling on the same count can be more calming than drinking. Doing this type of breathing for one minute several times through the work day can help a person stay more relaxed and less stressed. Binge eating, or ‘comfort eating’ is another thing people do when stressed, but this habit is also very unhealthy because it leads to obesity and heart disease. Comfort foods tend to be high-fat, high-sugar and high-salt, and eating them is also linked to diabetes.

Image Credit: John White, Wiki Commons