Monday, March 17, 2014

Alcohol consumption is directly related to breast cancer: latest scientific facts


The International Agency for Research on Cancer has collected updated evidence and data from recent scientific studies (2009-2013) to investigate the link between breast cancer and alcohol consumption. Interestingly, the analyses found a linear correlation between alcohol intake and breast cancer occurrence, as summarized in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine article (published 2014).

This latest article compiled and statistically analyzed the experimental and numerical data from various research articles, and the conclusion reinforces that alcohol consumption leads to higher rates of breast cancer. The main cause is "ethanol oxidation" and the resulting byproduct acetaldehyde. In the case of breast cancer, ethanol reaches the breast tissues via the bloodstream, where its metabolism generates various carcinogens such as acetaldehyde, free radicals and peroxides which increase cell proliferation.

Some interesting facts are also brought forward. For example, the side effects of alcohol can be enhanced or diminished by various factors such as age, hormonal status, nutrition and drinking frequency and pattern. These are discussed below:


Hormones greatly affect the alcohol metabolism, and vice versa. Early-age drinkers (younger adults and adolescents) are at a greater risk of developing cancer. This is because the alcohol-related carcinogens have a greater impact on the human body during development or tissue-growth phases. In the case of breast cancer, early-age female drinkers are at a greater risk during mammary development. However, pre- and post-menopausal status in women did not show noticeable differences toward cancer risk.

Folic acid/Folate/Vitamin B9:

Folate is a vitamin required for normal DNA synthesis in the human body. A review on nutrition was done by the World Cancer Research Fund, and it was found that vitamin B, or folate, can be a preventive factor for breast cancer caused due to alcohol consumption. The fact also remains that all heavy drinkers have been reported to be deficient in folate due to either decreased absorption or increased excretion. Consuming foods that are rich in folate, such as asparagus, romaine lettuce, spinach turnip greens, lentils, collard greens and parsley, is important for heavy drinkers.

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