Even a Little Alcohol Can Harm Your Health, Research Shows

Most people know about the link between smoking and cancer, but few realize that alcohol is also a potent carcinogen. Based on research According to the American Cancer Society, alcohol contributes to more than 75,000 cancers each year and nearly 19,000 cancer deaths.

Alcohol is known to be the direct cause of seven different cancers: cancer of the head and neck (oral cavity, pharynx and larynx), esophageal cancer, liver cancer, breast cancer and colorectal cancer. Research suggests there may be a link between alcohol and other cancers, including prostate and pancreatic cancers, although the evidence is less clear.

For some cancers, such as liver and colorectal, the risk only begins when people drink in excess. But for breast cancer and esophageal cancer, the risk increased, although not significantly, with any alcohol consumption. The risks increase as a person drinks more.

“If someone drinks less alcohol, they have a lower risk of developing the disease than heavy drinkers,” said Dr. Farhad Islami, senior scientific director for the American Cancer Society. “Even two drinks per day, one drink per day, may be associated with a small cancer risk compared with non-drinkers.”

The most common cause of alcohol-related death in the United States is alcoholic liver disease, which kills about 22,000 people a year. While risks increase as people age and alcohol exposure accumulates, more than 5,000 Americans in their 20s, 30s, and 40s die from alcoholic liver disease every year.

Alcoholic liver disease has three stages: alcoholic fatty liver, when fat accumulates in the viscera; alcoholic hepatitis, when inflammation begins to occur; and alcoholic cirrhosis, or scarring of the tissue. The first two phases are reversible if you stop drinking altogether; The third stage is not.

Symptoms of alcoholic liver disease include nausea, vomiting, abdominal pain, and jaundice — yellow eyes or skin. However, symptoms rarely appear until the liver is severely damaged.


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