risk of colorectal cancer

The World Health Organization’s cancer agency has recently highlighted a clear link between alcohol consumption and colorectal cancer risk. While the research showed some inconsistencies, there was limited evidence to show reducing or eliminating alcohol can notably decrease colorectal cancer risk.

Here we’ll explore the findings of the report, examine how alcohol fuels cancer risk, and outline the health perks of cutting back.

Studies suggests cutting out or limiting alcohol reduces cancer risk

After analysing numerous studies, the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) found that there’s a consistent thread: limiting or stopping alcohol intake can lower the risk of certain cancers, particularly colorectal cancer.

Although the evidence varies, there is limited evidence to support that limiting alcohol consumption reduces the risk of colorectal, breast, and laryngeal cancers. Interestingly, an international pooled analysis consisting of 12 studies, revealed that quitting alcohol and smoking could significantly cut colorectal cancer risk.

Abstaining from alcohol for extended periods was also linked to a substantial decrease in risk, with up to a 55% reduction for those who quit for 20 years.

How does alcohol contribute to cancer risk?

Alcohol consumption is a known risk factor for several types of cancer, including colorectal cancer. There are various ways it can increase the risk such as damaging the lining of the digestive tract, making it easier for carcinogens to cause mutations in the DNA. It can also affect the body’s ability to process and absorb various nutrients, including vitamin B, which plays a role in cell health and division.

Alcohol metabolization results in acetaldehyde – a toxic chemical and probable human carcinogen that can damage DNA and proteins within the body. Alcohol can also increase the levels of certain hormones, such as oestrogen, which is linked to an increased risk of breast cancer.

For colorectal cancer specifically, alcohol may promote inflammation in the gut, leading to changes that could increase cancer risk.

The benefits of quitting or limiting alcohol intake

Scaling back on alcohol reduces the risk of cancer and brings a host of other health benefits too. Reducing alcohol consumption can lead to better liver health, improved sleep, lower blood pressure, and potential weight loss due to the high calorie content of many alcoholic beverages. It’s great for your mental health too. Cutting down on alcohol can boost mental clarity, reduce the risk of dependency, and generally improve life quality.

So, while the connection between alcohol and colorectal cancer may have some gaps in research, current evidence suggests reducing or eliminating alcohol intake does lower the risk. Even modest reductions can have significant health advantages.

If you’re concerned about your risk of developing colorectal cancer, or you want to take a proactive approach to reducing the risk, schedule an appointment with Mr Alan Woodward today.

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