For cancer prevention, it’s best not to drink alcohol.
The less alcohol you drink, the lower your risk for cancer. Even though most of us understand that drinking alcohol can be harmful, many Americans reach for a beer or a glass of wine without too much thought. But if you’re interested in taking a proactive approach to cancer prevention, it’s best not to drink alcohol.
Think Before You Drink
Any reduction in alcohol consumption will lower your risk for developing cancer. If you’re going to drink, consider drinking less. Here are some tips to help:
Be Mindful of Moderation
If you enjoy an occasional alcoholic beverage, or you’re socializing where alcohol is being served, it is good to drink thoughtfully and in moderation.
If you do drink alcohol, limit your intake to no more than two drinks a day for men and one drink a day for women. That’s because even when men and women drink the same amount of alcohol, higher levels are seen in the bloodstream of women than of men. This means women’s organs are exposed to higher levels of alcohol than men.
Skip a Round
If you’ve had a round or two already, why not skip the next one, and order a club soda, a non-alcoholic beer, some unsweetened iced tea, or sparkling water.
Be Conscious of Habits
Be aware that restaurants and bars often serve larger than standard size alcoholic drinks.
Order smaller sizes.
Avoid asking for a double.
Alternate alcoholic and non-alcoholic drinks.
Enjoy low or no-alcohol alternative drinks (such as non-alcoholic beer).
Keep some days alcohol-free each week.
Strong evidence points to the link between alcohol consumption and cancer. Drinking alcohol is directly linked to six different cancers and cancer risk from alcohol is consistent, whether you’re drinking beer, wine or distilled liquor.
It’s in the Ethanol
Scientists are still researching how alcohol causes cancer. Ethanol, the alcohol found in drinks, is recognized as a carcinogen that may lead to DNA damage.
When you drink alcohol and you process ethanol, your body breaks it down into a chemical called acetaldehyde. Acetaldehyde not only damages your DNA, it also prevents your body from repairing the damage.
Damage to your DNA can cause issues. DNA is your cells’ “instruction manual.” When your DNA is not working properly, your body’s cellular growth and function is affected — and cancer develops from out of control cell growth.
Alcohol may also reduce folate absorption or help potential carcinogens enter cells.
- Alcohol and Breast Cancer
Women’s risk for breast cancer – especially after menopause – increases with greater alcohol consumption. Even drinking less than one drink a day increases risk. In fact, women at high risk for breast cancer should consider not drinking alcohol.
- Alcohol and Weight
Alcoholic drinks are high in calories and can contribute to weight gain, which increases cancer risk.
- Alcohol to Improve Health
The current evidence does not support recommending drinking alcohol as a way to improve health for any reason – for instance, to prevent heart disease.