Monday 27 January 2014

Alcohol and Cancer

By DebiLyn Smith Author of Running From Cancer: a tilted memoir.

A breast cancer "treatment survivor" since May 2011, DebiLyn strives to reduce the 50% of life-style induced cancer patients. "You can run, but you can't hide," she says.

Drinking Alcohol on a Regular Basis Can Increase the Risk of Breast Cancer

Exceeding the three weekly maximum recommended alcoholic drinks affects cancer risk
It's talked about in women's magazines and on the television and radio, but it isn't really news. Like the fact that smoking can cause lung cancer, the fact that there is a relationship between women drinking alcohol and breast cancer has existed for some time now. As with smoking, it takes a while to open everyone's eyes about how dangerous playing with that weekend cigarette or that second or third drink in one day can really be. Will we have to resort to pictures of mastectomies on wine bottles to get the point across? Hopefully not.

Alcohol Fuels Cancer in a Number of Ways

The number of breast cancer cases has been rising sharply, possibly due to the amount of Baby Boomers approaching or being in menopause. All those hormone levels fluctuating. The majority of breast cancers are fed by hormones like estrogen or progesterone. When I read this, I thought, "Bingo!" I had been peri-menopausal for months, meaning my periods were becoming unreliable in length, timing and appearance. I used to think PMS was bad. This next phase had me humming like a mental patient. Nothing was right in my life. My friends all drove me crazy, my husband intentionally, I was sure, did everything wrong and the entire world was stacked against me. It was easy to slip into drinking three glasses of wine in one evening. On weekends, there were glasses of wine at lunch. More at the lounge after skiing, then more with dinner and socializing. Little did I know they were fueling a cancer that had decided to grow within my breast.

Alcohol may contribute to breast cancer in a number of ways. One of its metabolic byproducts, acetaldehyde, is thought to be carcinogenic. Alcohol may also boost blood estrogen levels, which can feed cancer growth. As well, alcohol may inhibit the ability of cells to repair faulty genes and make breast cells more vulnerable to carcinogens.

Exceeding Weekly Maximum Recommended Alcoholic Drinks Affects Cancer Risk

What's recommended? A maximum of three alcoholic drinks a week for women, seven to fourteen for men. The worst of the bad news is for women who have already been through breast cancer. For them, playing with any alcohol can be detrimental, especially if they have a hormone-fed type of cancer (ie: estrogen or progesterone). Therefore, women who drink regularly, like every day, will have chronically elevated levels of estrogen circulating in their bloodstream. And since estrogen is the equivalent of light, sweet crude for the breast cancer engine, it's easy to see why regular alcohol consumption is directly linked to an increased risk for breast cancer. In fact, there does not appear to be any "safe" level of alcohol use: even a half glass of wine per day increases the risk for breast cancer.

I hate to be the heavy here, but a fact is a fact. Please keep this in the front and not the back of your mind the next time you raise that second glass of spirits to your lips. And let's all drink to our health! Make mine a double water, heavy on the anxiety-free, please.

To find a Cancer Rehab Canada near you, visit the list of British ColumbiaSaskatchewanOntario, or Nova Scotia locations.

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