I know Im overstepping my bounds here, but try not to get defensive.. Its only an opinion and you know what they say about opinions. Just thought you might enjoy a different perspective to ponder and this particular perspective is intended for Oncologists. I guess they see a lot of esophogeal cancer especially associated with alcohol. Lots of things can kill us quickly. Alcohol is a CNS depressant that injures the initial contact areas like the mouth and esophagus most. -Just somethin to gnaw on...
Laura A. Stokowski, RN, MS
"Responsible drinking" has become a 21st-century mantra for how most people view alcohol consumption. But when it comes to cancer, no amount of alcohol is safe. That is the conclusion of the 2014 World Cancer Report (WCR), issued by the World Health Organization's International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC).
Declared a carcinogen by the IARC in 1988, alcohol is causally related to several cancers. "We have known for a long time that alcohol causes esophageal cancer, says Jürgen Rehm, PhD, WCR contributor on alcohol consumption, and Senior Scientist at the Centre for Addictions and Mental Health in Toronto, Ontario, Canada, "but the relationship with other tumors, such as breast cancer, has come to our attention only in the past 10-15 years."
The Risk Is Dose-Dependent
The more alcohol that a person drinks, the higher the risk. The alcohol/cancer link has been strengthened by the finding of a dose/response relationship between alcohol consumption and certain cancers. A causal relationship exists between alcohol consumption and cancers of the mouth, pharynx, larynx, esophagus, colon-rectum, liver, and female breast; a significant relationship also exists between alcohol consumption and pancreatic cancer.
Links have also been made between alcohol consumption and leukemia; multiple myeloma; and cancers of the cervix, vulva, vagina, and skin, but fewer studies have looked at these relationships and more research is needed to establish a confirmed association. For bladder, lung, and stomach cancers, the evidence for an alcohol-cancer link is conflicting.
How Solid Are These Data?
"For the cancers that have been identified as being causally linked with alcohol, we are absolutely certain that alcohol causes these cancers," says Dr. Rehm. "About a few cancers, such as pancreatic cancer, we are not yet certain," he says. "We believe that we have good evidence showing that alcohol can cause pancreatic cancer, but we would not go so far as we would for esophageal cancer or breast cancer. And for renal cancer, the IARC has said that there are indications that there may be an effect, but we don't have the same level of evidence that we have for cancers that are clearly detrimentally linked to alcohol."
But surely, light drinking doesn't cause or contribute to cancer? Apparently, it does. In a meta-analysis of 222 studies comprising 92,000 light drinkers and 60,000 nondrinkers with cancer, light drinking was associated with risk for oropharyngeal cancer, esophageal squamous cell carcinoma, and female breast cancer. From this meta-analysis, it was estimated that in 2004 worldwide, 5000 deaths from oropharyngeal cancer, 24,000 from esophageal squamous cell carcinoma, and 5000 from breast cancer were attributable to light drinking. Light drinking was not associated with cancer of the colon-rectum, liver, or larynx.
However, a caveat is in order here. When alcohol use is self-reported, respondents might underestimate, or underreport, their actual alcohol intake. This can result in finding associations between cancer and light to moderate drinking, when in reality, alcohol intake is much higher.
The Nuts and Bolts of Increased Risk
The biological mechanisms that mediate alcohol-related cancer are not fully understood. Alcoholic beverages can contain at least 15 carcinogenic compounds, including acetaldehyde, acrylamide, aflatoxins, arsenic, benzene, cadmium, ethanol, ethyl carbamate, formaldehyde, and lead. Ethanol is the most important carcinogen in alcoholic beverages, and the rate of ethanol metabolism is genetically determined.
The first and most toxic product of alcohol metabolism is acetaldehyde. Ingested ethanol is oxidized by the enzymes alcohol dehydrogenase, cytochrome P4502E1, and catalase to form acetaldehyde. Acetaldehyde also occurs naturally in alcoholic beverages. This metabolite is carcinogenic and genotoxic when in contact with the mucosa of the upper aerodigestive tract (pharynx, oral cavity, esophagus, larynx), where high concentrations of acetaldehyde induce mucosal hyperproliferation. Even low doses of alcohol in direct contact with these areas can increase the risk for cancer.
Several different causative pathways are implicated in alcohol-related cancer. For example, alcohol is a folate antagonist, and an alteration in folate metabolism and folate malabsorption are believed to interact with ethanol to impair DNA methylation. In breast cancer, alcohol can increase estrogen levels and the activity of insulin-like growth factor receptors, which can stimulate mammary cell proliferation. In digestive tract cancers, an individual's genotype could play a role. Other mechanisms that have been proposed include the production of reactive oxygen and nitrogen species, and a role for alcohol as a solvent of tobacco carcinogens.
The Hard Truth About Hard Liquor
The relative risk for alcohol-associated cancer depends on where ingested alcohol contacts body tissue, according to Dr. Rehm. Alcohol first contacts the oral cavity, followed by the esophagus, and for these sites the relative risk for alcohol-related cancer is highest. Next are the colon, rectum, and liver, and the relative risks for those cancers are lower than for the anatomical sites first in contact with ingested alcohol.
The type of alcohol -- wine, beer, spirits -- doesn't usually matter, except in the case of cancer of the esophagus. The esophagus is covered with very fine cilia that are easily destroyed by high concentrations of ethanol, such as found in hard liquor.
A Drink and a Smoke: Dangerous Combination
Smoking has long been established as a risk factor for cancer. But smoking and drinking -- considered by many to be a pleasurable combination -- is a particularly dangerous mix. A synergistic effect has been found for tobacco smoking and alcohol consumption with respect to the risk for cancers of the oral cavity, pharynx, larynx, and esophagus; the highest risks are seen in those who are both heavy drinkers and heavy smokers. The esophageal mucosa of patients who both drink and smoke have shown a dose-dependent increase in esophageal mucosal cell proliferation. Avoidance of cigarettes and alcohol could prevent up to 80% of oral cancer cases and 90% of laryngeal cancer cases.
Edited by riseabovethought, 11 June 2014 - 01:47 PM.