Alcohol and Cancer Risk

Last Modified: March 22, 2012

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Question

My husband is a heavy drinker and I am concerned for his health. Is there a link with alcohol and cancer?

Answer

Gloria DiLullo, MSN, CRNP, OncoLink Content Specialist, responds:

Many people are aware that heavy alcohol use can cause health problems such as cirrhosis of the liver, hepatitis, high blood pressure, heart disease and stroke, but many are not aware that alcohol can also increase a your of developing cancer. Alcohol use has been linked to an increased risk of several types of cancer, including cancers of the mouth, throat (pharynx), voice box (larynx), esophagus (swallowing tube), liver, breast (in women), colon and rectum. The risk for each of these cancers increases with the amount of alcohol consumed over time, regardless of the type of drink; beer, wine, or liquor (distilled spirits).

Those who also smoke cigarettes, or use other tobacco products, are at an even higher risk, particularly for cancers of the mouth, throat, voice box, and esophagus.

This question and answer was part of the OncoLink Brown Bag Chat Series. View the entire Cancer Risk & Prevention Webchat transcript.



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