Drinking moderately is key in reducing cancer risk. However, trends indicate an increase in alcohol consumption in recent decades, mostly in developing countries.
Short-term effects include a direct impact on mood, concentration, judgment and coordination (alcohol is a common cause of motor vehicle accidents and other forms of injury).
Long-term health effects of alcohol have been clearly established. Research has indicated that men who have 2 alcoholic drinks/ day and women who have 1 already have an increased chance of developing certain cancers. The more alcohol a person consumes, the higher the risk. Furthermore, risks due to alcohol use also vary depending the type of cancer. The strongest association is found between alcohol and mouth, oesophageal, laryngeal, pharyngeal, breast and liver cancers. People who drink heavily in combination with smoking are even at higher risk for most of these cancers.
The mechanisms by which alcohol causes cancer are not yet completely understood. One theory is that the alcohol itself is responsible by increasing hormone levels; another theory links the carcinogenic effects to the way alcohol is metabolised in the body.
Other harmful long-term effects of heavy alcohol use include damage to the pancreas, liver and brain and increased blood pressure.
The UICC is committed to the implementation of strong measures against alcohol abuse, through the effective implementation of the WHO Global and European initiatives.
Don't be silly, drink in moderation: limiting the amount of alcohol you drink is an effective cancer prevention measure. To learn more about reducing your alcohol intake click here!