While multi nationals beer makers are busy trying to further expand their market with seminars on benefits of beer to the human bod
y, scientists however still warn that beer is dangerous to health. Below is a report as published in cancer research UK website.
There is no doubt that alcohol can cause seven types of cancer
The less alcohol you drink, the lower the risk of cancer
Overall, the risk of developing cancer is smaller if you stay within the government guidelines, about one standard drink a day for women or two for men
Drinking and smoking together are even worse for you.
Not everyone who drinks will develop cancer. But on the whole, scientists have found that some cancers are more common in people who drink more alcohol than others. Read more about the evidence that alcohol causes cancer.
Which cancers are affected?
Drinking alcohol regularly can increase the risk of:
1. Mouth cancer
Mouth cancer is more common in men than women and the vast majority of cases occur in people aged over 50. Over 5,300 new cases of mouth cancer are diagnosed in the UK every year.
The main risk factors for mouth cancer are smoking and drinking alcohol. At least three out four cases of could be prevented by quitting smoking and drinking less alcohol.
2. Pharyngeal cancer (upper throat)
3. Oesophageal cancer (food pipe)
Cancer of the oesophagus (food pipe or gullet) affects around 7,800 people each year in the UK. The disease is more common in men than women and most cases are in people aged 50 and over.
Smoking and drinking alcohol are the main risk factors for oesophageal cancer. We also know that certain inherited conditions are linked with the cancer. Acid reflux, inflammation of the oesophagus and the condition known as Barrett’s oesophagus can all increase the risk of developing one type of oesophageal cancer.
4. Laryngeal cancer (voice box)
5. Breast cancer
Breast cancer is now the most common cancer in the UK. Over 100 women are diagnosed with the cancer every day. Men also get breast cancer but it is rare. Of the 46,000 cases diagnosed each year in the UK, around 300 are in men. Thanks to a combination of screening and improved treatment, death rates from breast cancer have fallen by a third since the 1980s.
Breast cancer risk increases with age, and around four out of five women diagnosed with the disease are over 50 years old. Having a strong family history of breast cancer or a previous diagnosis of the disease increases the risk. Other well-established risk factors include having no or few children, having children later in life and not breast feeding. Obesity after the menopause, regularly drinking alcohol and taking HRT also increase the risk of breast cancer.
6. Bowel cancer
Eating a diet low in red or processed meat and high in fibre, fruit and vegetables can reduce the risk of bowel cancer. Being physically active helps to cut the risk, but being overweight or regularly drinking too much alcohol increases it.
7. Liver cancer
Primary liver cancer (cancer that starts in the liver) affects about 3,100 people each year in the UK. It is important not to confuse cancers that start in the liver with cancers that spread to the liver after starting elsewhere in the body.
Liver damage (known as cirrhosis) increases the chances of developing liver cancer. Cirrhosis can be caused by infections like hepatitis B or C, or by drinking too much alcohol. Also people with diabetes have a higher risk of developing liver cancer.
The risk isn’t just increased for heavy drinkers
Alcohol can increase the risk of cancer at levels far too low to make an average person drunk. It’s not just people who drink very heavily who have higher risks.
Regularly drinking a pint of premium lager or a large glass of wine a day or less can increase the risk of mouth, throat, oesophageal (gullet or foodpipe), breast and bowel cancers. (They both include about 3 units of alcohol.)
Each unit of alcohol has a weaker effect on the risk of breast cancer than on cancers of the head and neck, but because breast cancer is the most common cancer in the UK and because so many women drink small amounts of alcohol regularly, a large number of women are affected – around 3,100 cases of breast cancer each year in the UK are linked to alcohol.
The more alcohol you drink, the higher the risk of developing cancer and other diseases. Heavy drinking can cause cirrhosis of the liver, which can in turn cause liver cancer. Heavy drinking can also lead to stroke, high blood pressure, pancreatitis and injuries.
Alcohol and heart disease
Drinking small amounts of alcohol has been shown to offer some protection for people at risk of heart disease, which normally applies to people over the age of 40. However, drinking more alcohol doesn’t reduce the risk further – in fact it can increase the risk of stroke and high blood pressure as well as other conditions. Increasing the amount of alcohol you drink in order to improve your health is unlikely to work.
Dr Mike Knapton, Associate Medical Director at the British Heart Foundation, said: “Moderate drinking – between 1 and 2 units a day – has been shown to offer some protection against heart disease.
“However, this should not be seen by people as a green light to start drinking – as there are better ways to protect your heart. Eating a sensible diet, exercising regularly and stopping smoking are all much better ways to keep your heart healthy.”
There are many possible explanations for how alcohol causes cancer. It is likely that different cancers are caused in different ways.
Here are the most likely theories:
In our bodies, alcohol (ethanol) is converted into a toxic chemical called acetaldehyde. It can cause cancer by damaging DNA and stopping our cells from repairing this damage. The International Agency for Research on Cancer have classified acetaldehyde formed as a result of drinking alcohol as being a cause of cancer, along with alcohol itself.
Acetaldehyde also causes liver cells to grow faster than normal. These regenerating cells are more likely to pick up changes in their genes that could lead to cancer.
Ethanol is broken down mainly by the liver, but lots of other cell types can do this as well. Some of the bacteria that live in our mouths and the linings of our guts are also able to convert ethanol into acetaldehyde.
Oestrogen and hormones
Alcohol can increase the levels of some hormones, such as oestrogen. Hormones act as messengers in the body, giving our cells instructions such as when to divide. Unusually high levels of oestrogen increase the risk of breast cancer.
Drinking lots of alcohol can damage the cells of the liver, causing a disease called cirrhosis. Cirrhosis can make you more likely to develop liver cancer.
Alcohol and other carcinogens
Alcohol makes it easier for the tissues of the mouth and throat to absorb the cancer-causing chemicals in tobacco. This is one reason why people who drink and smoke multiply the damage they receive and have especially high risks of cancer.
Folate is an important vitamin that helps our cells produce new DNA correctly. People who drink alcohol tend to have lower levels of folate in their blood and some studies have found that some cancers are more common in people with low folate levels.
Highly reactive by-products
Alcohol can cause highly reactive molecules, called Reactive Oxygen Species (ROS), to be produced in our cells. These molecules can damage the DNA, which could cause cancer to develop.