7 types of cancer caused by alcohol
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cancer caused by alcohol

cancer caused by alcohol

The oropharynx – between the mouth and the throat

The larynx and the esophagus – two sections of the throat

The liver

The colon

The rectum – at the base of the colon

The female breast

These seven areas can develop cancer with definitive causality from drinking alcohol, according to the University of Otago in New Zealand’s Jennie Connor of the Department of Preventive and Social Medicine.

The debate on causality

According to Connor, the causal language in both medical and layperson discussion regarding alcohol and cancer is “patchy” at best. She goes on to add the loose wording regarding the scientific link makes it instead “easily interpreted as something less than cancer being caused by drinking.”

A widespread “stop drinking alcohol” campaign across medical and multimedia platforms should be as strongly regarded as the “stop smoking” campaigns of the last 30 years Connor emphasizes.

Colin Shevills is with the United Kingdom’s Alcohol Health Alliance. He stresses that “people have the right to know about the impact of alcohol on their health, including its link with cancer, so that they can make informed choices about how much they drink.”

The facts

Dorothy Bennett is the director of the Molecular and Clinical Sciences Research Institute at St. George’s, University of London. She explains the causality in four steps:

  • Alcohol enters cells very easily
  • It is then converted into acetaldehyde
  • Acetaldehyde can damage DNA and is a known carcinogen
  • Carcinogens are known to cause cancer in living tissue

This would also explain why the seven cancers tied to alcohol use are primarily along the digestive path. It also backs up Connor’s finding that some of the cancer’s risk tempers when drinking ceases.

Connor enumerates the seven cancer epicenters comprise close to 6 percent of untimely deaths due to cancer globally.

Proactive and counter-reactive endeavors

At the beginning of 2016, the U.K. officially launched new recommendations on alcohol drinking:


  • Instead of different standards for the sexes,  men should drink no more than women
  • Disclaimers should warn that any amount of alcohol increases the chances of developing a range of cancers


The National Heart Foundation, the Cancer Society of New Zealand and the New Zealand Medical Association, have all also recently adopted evidence-based position statements debunking alcohol’s cardiovascular benefits as a plus for imbibing and instead highlight cancer-causing links.

The medical and scientific community’s primary message is that “there is no safe level of drinking with respect to cancer,” as Connor articulates. She cites research about low to moderate levels of alcohol caused cancer.

But the alcohol industry has reportedly been investing in funding for counterattacks. Connor says it obviously has a great deal of potential financial loss at stake. She explains how this is a public relations nightmare for the alcohol industry, which is spurring misinformation that “undermines research findings and contradicts evidence-based public health messages.”

The effect on alcoholism

“I’m not going to live in hell, then die and go to hell,” belts out longtime gospel singer Shirley Caesar at the beginning of a song.

For many, negative alcohol side effects such as hangovers, high blood pressure and organ breakdowns can make life hell. Top that with a cancer diagnosis and it’s a tragedy compounded, as Caesar similarly admonishes.

You don’t have to suffer through a life of alcoholism only to develop cancer. Sovereign Health is a nationwide treatment provider for holistic bodily and mental recovery from substance abuse and mental disorder. We provide detoxification, cognitive retraining, alternative therapies and formidable residential treatment so you can live a full life of wellness beyond addiction and mental health issues.

About the author

Sovereign Health Staff Writer Kristin Currin-Sheehan is a mindful spirit swimming in metaphysical pools with faith as her compass. Her cover: a 30-something Cinderella breadwinner of an all-sport blended family. Her repertoire includes writing and editing; writing poetry, lifestyle articles and TV news; radio production; and on-camera reporting. For more information and other inquiries about this media, contact the author at news@sovhealth.com.  

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