Heavy Alcohol Consumption Linked to Colorectal Cancer
Stony Brook University researchers report that people who drink at least 9 glasses of alcoholic beverages made with distilled spirits per week for more than 10 years are much more likely than nondrinkers to develop colorectal cancer or pre malignant polyps.

Nearly 2,000 asymptomatic patients participated in the study. All had a screening colonoscopy, which uses a long, thin scope to examine the entire length of the colon. Cancer or suspicious polyps were found in the left colon of 6.1 percent of the nondrinkers and of 17.4 percent of those who drank at least 9 glasses per week of spirits for more than 10 years. Source: American College of Gastroenterology, 10/17/03.

Alcoholic Beverage Consumption
"Alcohol and cancer," ALCOHOL ALERT (July,1993), 21.
Cancer kills an estimated 526,000 Americans yearly, second only to heart disease. Cancers of the lung, large bowl, and breast are the most common in the United States. considerable evidence suggests a connection between heavy alcohol consumption and increased risk for cancer, with and estimated 2 to 4 percent of all cancer cases thought to be caused either directly or indirectly by alcohol.

"Alcohol consumption leads to increased breast cancer rates," from
The risk of women developing breast cancer increases over the years if they continue to consume alcoholic drinks, November 18, 2002 issue of the BRITISH JOURNAL OF MEDICINE. Currently, alcohol is linked to 4 percent of breast cancers in the developed world. In the United Kingdom alone, alcohol is associated with 2,000 breast-cancer cases each year. Those numbers are expected to increase if alcohol consumption among women continues to increase. This study was based on 150,000 women world wide.

Brooks, P. J.; NUCLEIC ACIDS RESEARCH( 2005), 33(11). "Drinking alcoholic beverages has been linked to an increased risk of upper gastrointestinal cancer and other types of cancer. Researchers looking for the potential biochemical basis for this link have focused on acetaldehyde, a suspected carcinogen formed as the body metabolizes alcohol.

Gapstur, S. M., et al. "Association of alcohol intake with pancreatic cancer mortality in never smokers", ARCHIVES OF INTERNAL MEDICINE, (2011). Researchers used data collected from the American Cancer Society study of 1 million patients followed from 1982 through 2006. The researchers used data collected from the Cancer Prevention Study II, a long-term study of 453,770 men and 576,697 women over the age of 30 who were first asked about their alcohol consumption in 1982. As of 2006, there were 6,847 pancreatic cancer deaths reported in those participants.

Some of the American Cancer Society findings included: for men, three or more drinks a day increased the risk of dying from pancreatic cancer; for women, the risk was significantly higher at four drinks per day; the risk o was 36% higher for never smokers who had three drinks per day; and after adjusting for smoking history, smokers were 16% more likely to develop pancreatic cancer. The researchers concluded that drinking three or more standard drinks per day increases pancreatic cancer mortality independent of smoking. These higher risks were found for liquor drinkers only. No significant increase was found for beer and wine drinkers. Pancreatic cancer is the fourth most common cause of cancer death in the United States.

Kwan, N, et. al, "Alcohol consumption and breast cancer recurrence and survival among women with early-stage breast cancer", Thirty-Second Annual CTRC-AACR San Antonio Breast Cancer Symposium, December 10-13, 2009; San Antonio, Texas. Alcohol consumption may increase the risk in developing breast cancer and the recurrence of breast cancer. Consuming as few as 3-4 drinks a week can increase the risk, researchers say. A study of 1,897 women with early-stage breast cancer, the Life After Cancer Epidemiology study, found for even light drinkers there was an increase in risk of breast cancer recurrence and breast cancer death, but no effect on total mortality.

According to Breast Cancer Guide Pam Stephen, "Estrogen is a hormone that fuels 80% of all cases of breast cancer. Any kind of alcohol that you consume may change the levels of female hormones, and thus cause more cases of estrogen-receptor positive breast cancer." Stephen also said there is no level of alcohol consumption that is safe. "For women, one drink of an alcoholic drink per day raises your risk very slightly. Your risk of developing breast cancer goes up to 10% if you have two drinks a day. If you consume three drinks daily, your risk rises to eo%," she said. The LACE study also indicated that alcohol was an even greater risk to women who were post menopausal and overweight.

Paddock, Catharine "Any type of alcohol drink raises breast cancer risk, new study". Medical News Today, September 28, 2007. A large US study suggests that it did not matter whether women drank beer, wine, or spirits, they all raised the risk of breast cancer to the same extent. And more than three alcoholic drinks a day raised breast cancer risk by 30 per cent, compared to women who had less than one drink a day. Dr. Arthur Klatsky, of the Kaiser Permanent Medical Care Program in Oakland, California, was the lead researcher. The results found that:
--there was no difference in breast cancer risk between wine, beer, and spirit consumption
--even between red and white wine, the impact was the same
--women who had between one and two drinks a day had a 10 percent higher breast cancer risk compared to those who had one drink a day
--the risk went up to 30 per cent for women who had more than three drinks a day
--the result was the same for all age and ethic groups.

70,033 women of different ethic origin who underwent health exams during the period 1978 to 1985 and look at the breast cancer incidence in the cohort in subsequent years. They found that 2,829 of the women had been diagnosed with breast cancer by 2004.

Sietz, Helmut; Becker, Peter; "Alcohol metabolism and cancer risk", ALCOHOL HEALTH AND RESEARCH WORLD (2007), 30 (1): 38-47. "Chronic alcohol consumption increases the risk for cancer of the organs and tissues of the respiratory tract and the upper digestive tract (i.e., upper aerodigestive tract), liver, colon, rectum, and breast. Various factors may contribute to the development (i.e., pathogenesis) of alcohol-associated cancer, including the actions of acetaldehyde, the first and most toxic metabolite of alcohol metabolism. The main enzymes involved in alcohol and acetaldehyde metabolism are alcohol dehydrogenase (ADH) and aldehyde dehydrogenase (ALDH), which are encoded by multiple genes. Because some of these genes exist in several variants (i.e., are polymorphic), and the enzymes encoded by certain variants may result in elevated acetaldehyde levels, the presence of these variants may predispose to certain cancers. Several mechanisms may contribute to alcohol-related cancer development. Acetaldehyde itself is a cancer-causing substance in experimental animals and reacts with DNA to form cancer-promoting compounds. In addition, highly reactive, oxygen-containing molecules that are generated during certain pathways of alcohol metabolism can damage the DNA, thus also inducing tumor development. Together with other factors related to chronic alcohol consumption, these metabolism-related factors may increase tumor risk in chronic heavy drinkers."

Vincenzo Bagnardi, C; Marta Blangiardo, C,; La Vecchia, Cario; Corrao, Giovanni; "Alcohol consumption and risk of cancer", ALCOHOL HEALTH AND RESEARCH, 25 (4): 276-278. The analysis was unable to identify a threshold level of alcohol consumption below which no increased risk for cancer is evident. Furthermore, this meta-analysis found that the association of alcohol with the risk for oral and pharyngeal cancer appears to be stronger than the association with esophageal or laryngeal cancer across increasing levels of alcohol intake.

This meta-analysis confirms that high levels of alcohol consumption (i.e., more than four drinks per day) results in a substantial risk of cancer development at several sites. This balance depends on the age, gender and baseline disease rates among the members of a given population. In addition, genetic factors also may influence a person's risk-benefit balance as suggested by the previously mentioned finding.

"Several of the components and contaminants identified in beer, wine, and spirits are know or suspected human carcinogens, including acetaldehyde, nitrosamines, aflatoxins, ethyl carbonate (urethan), asbestos, and arsenic compounds (IARC V. 44, 1988; NTP, 1998).

Use history
Alcohol consumption in the United States increased from the 1940s until the early 1980s, then began to decrease steadily; by 1993, consumption had declined to the lowest level since 1964. Per capita consumption figures were derived by estimating total alcohol use, based on sales and shipment data, of the U.S. population aged 14-years or older. Apparent per capita consumption expressed in gallons of pure alcohol was 1.6 in 1940, ~2.2 in 1964 and 1993, and ~2.8 ca 1980 (NIAAA, 1997).

Wendy Chen of Brigham and Women's Hospital, the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute and Harvard Medical School in Boston, and colleagues studied the self-reported habits and health of more than 80,000 nurses in the United States, including 44,187 post menopausal nurses.

The researched discovered that women past menopause who reported having an average of one and a half drinks a day had a 30 percent greater risk of breast cancer than those who drank little or no alcohol. Women who took HRT for five years and drank the same amount nearly doubled their risk.

The American Cancer Society estimates that more than 190,000 U.S. women are diagnosed with breast cancer every year, and it is the second leading cause of cancer deaths in women, after lung cancer. January 16, 2003.

Emsley, John, "Through a chemists eyes: a dispassionate look at alcohol," CONSUMERS' RESEARCH (July, 1995): 19-24. "When we suddenly increase the amount , by drinking a lot of it, we experience some rather unusual effects--elation, to begin with, but deflation a few hours later. Were alcohol to be discovered today its sale to the public would never be permitted because of its potential lethal side-effects.

"Despite these dietary components, an alcoholic drink is not regarded as a food, a medicine, or a tonic, although in earlier times alcohol was diverted as all of these. Today we treat it mainly as a relaxant. Our body treats it as a poison.

Alcohol is a solvent and alcoholic beverages include more than 400 substances beside ethanol. ("Living well, staying well," American Heart Association and the American Cancer Society, 1996.)

The National Toxicology Program at the U. S. Department of Health and Human Services released its thirteenth Report on Carcinogens, and lists alcoholic beverage consumptions is 'known to be a human carcinogen.' The NTP now lists alcoholic beverage consumption along with arsenic, asbestos, benzene, and others.

"New breast cancer risk found : mom's drinking can increase risk of daughter's breast cancer," . Women who drink moderate to high quantities of alcohol during pregnancy could be contributing to an increased risk of breast cancer among their daughters, according to a study presented at the first annual Frontiers in Cancer Prevention Research meeting conducted by the American Association for Cancer Research (AACR). Since alcohol increases both estrogen's in the blood as well as breast cancer risk, researchers at Georgetown University Medical Center wondered whether alcohol exposure in utero through a pregnant mother affects breast cancer risk. Findings obtained in human studies suggest that the in utero period plays an important role in determining future risk of developing breast cancer. Breast cancer is the second leading cause of cancer-realted death in women.

"Why does alcohol cause breast cancer? "Some alcoholic beverages contain carcinogens, and alcohol is also metabolized into ... carcinogens in the body," according to the National Cancer Institute. (Journal of the National Cancer Institute 1992, 85:700-1).

Austin and Hitchcock in their book, "Breast Cancer -- What You Should Know (But may Not be Told) About Prevention, Diagnosis, and Treatment," Prima, 1994, point out that alcohol suppresses the immune system. Finally, a more compelling reason for the link, the authors cite, is that estrogen levels increase when women drink alcohol and "most breast cancer risk factors also tie to estrogen levels. The alcohol-induced increase in estrogen is therefore most likely to be the primary problem."


updated 12/13/16