Updated: Jan 1, 2020
Over 130 million Americans aged 12 or older reported alcohol use in 2016 according to the National Survey on Drug Use and Health. This widespread consumption of alcohol has helped bolster the US alcoholic beverage industry to ~$250 billion annually!
Have you heard people say, "Studies show red wine is good for you", or "alcohol is healthy in moderation"? Although cultural and social norms often encourage alcohol consumption, research indicates that even minimal use may pose significant health risks. Alcohol has been implicated in the development of many disorders and diseases, specifically cancer, by changing hormone concentrations, producing toxic metabolites, and disrupting vitamin stores.
"A woman who drinks one serving of alcohol a day significantly increases her risk for breast cancer, one of the most common cancer killers of American women".
So, let's start with breast health. A woman who drinks one serving of alcohol a day significantly increases her risk for breast cancer, one of the most common cancer killers of American women. The effect is dose dependent, meaning that increased alcohol consumption increases the risk of cancer. In fact, relative to non-drinkers, women who consume 9-10 servings of alcohol per day increase their risk of developing breast cancer risk by over 100%! Dark grape juice probably won't give you a buzz, but contain heart healthy and anti-cancer substances, without the mutagenic ethanol.
Let us take a moment to consider the colon, an unsung hero in the battle against waste. The risk of developing colorectal cancer, which is the second leading cause of cancer death in the US, is increased with alcohol consumption. Years of liquid courage can wreak havoc on your colon. Fiber helps to keep the colon happy while alcohol consumption can make it very sad...colostomy bag kind of sad.
Now on to the largest solid organ in the body, the liver, which is critical for hundreds of essential functions in the human body including blood filtering, detoxification of chemicals, protein synthesis, etc. A few drinks a day or weekly may not be worth the damage inflicted to the liver. Consuming 2-3 servings of alcohol (specifically liquor) per day increases the risk of developing liver cancer by up to190%, as compared to non-drinkers. Alcohol causes cancer by manipulating genes, lowering the concentration of cancer-protecting antioxidants, and leading to the development of fatty liver and cirrhosis. Abstinence may help you keep the "live" in the word liver.
How potent is alcohol as a toxin? There have been concerns that even alcohol-based mouthwash may increase the risk of mouth cancer. Ethanol consumption can also lead to chronic pancreatitis, which is an established precursor to pancreatic cancer.
Many of us are aware that alcohol related accidents and violence are a major source of disability and death in society. The fact that alcohol can have negative effects on unborn children is also widely known. What may not be as generally well known is that alcohol is a carcinogen. Now that you know, be kind to yourself, because you are the only you, that you have.
Drink well, Eat Well, Live well.