Can Alcohol Cause Bowel Cancer?

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Nicholas Conn

Nicholas Conn is a leading industry addiction expert who runs the UK’s largest addiction advisory service and is regularly featured in the national press, radio and TV.

Can Alcohol Cause Bowel Cancer?

When drinking alcohol, whether it be binge drinking or the occasional drink, it’s important to understand the potential health risks.

Alcohol has been linked with various health conditions, impacting both your physical and mental health. But can alcohol cause bowel cancer?

That’s what we’ll be exploring today. Read on for information on bowel cancer, the potential links between alcohol consumption and bowel cancer, and how you can prevent the cancer risk.

What is Bowel Cancer?

Bowel cancer, also known as colorectal cancer, is a type of cancer that affects the colon or rectum.

This type of cancer usually develops from benign polyps that grow on the inner lining of the large intestine. Over time, these polyps can become cancerous, which can lead to malignant tumours growing.

Symptoms of bowel cancer can vary but may include:

  • Changes in bowel habits
  • Blood in the stool
  • Abdominal pain
  • Unexplained weight loss
  • Fatigue

If you’re concerned about these symptoms, you should speak to your GP and arrange a bowel screening. Early detection is key when it comes to cancer.

Can Alcohol Increase The Risk of Developing Cancer?

In short, yes - alcohol can increase the risk of developing cancer. Alcohol consumption has long been associated with various health risks, including an increased risk of cancer.

Alcohol consumption is a known carcinogen, which means the risk of cancer increases when you drink alcohol.

Some studies suggest that drinking three or more alcoholic drinks per day can increase the risk of pancreatic and stomach cancers, as well as prostate cancer.

In the UK, it is estimated that around 3-4 per 100 cancer cases are caused by alcohol. This is roughly 11,500 - 12,500 new cancer cases per year.

Drinking alcohol can increase the risk of developing seven types of cancer, including breast cancer, liver cancer, and bowel cancer. It can also raise the risk of mouth cancer and some types of throat cancer. The risk tends to increase with the amount of alcohol consumed over time.

Alcohol and Bowel Cancer

Excessive alcohol consumption is thought to increase the risk of bowel cancer. When you drink alcohol, it gets broken down in your body and forms harmful chemicals that can damage cells in the bowel. Over time, this damage can accumulate, leading to potential cancerous growths.

Alcohol also affects the way your body absorbs nutrients, particularly vitamins and minerals such as folate. This can further contribute to the risk of bowel cancer, as folate is known to protect against cancer. This means that a folate deficiency due to alcohol consumption can increase the risk of colorectal cancer.

Additionally, alcohol can disrupt the balance of gut bacteria. This can lead to inflammation and other changes in the gut microbiome that may promote the development of cancerous lesions.

A study investigated the relationship between the type and amount of alcohol and the risk of colon and rectal cancer. It found that alcohol intake is associated with the risk of rectal cancer. Interestingly, however, the risk appeared to be reduced when wine was included in the alcohol intake.

It is estimated that roughly 6 out of 1000 cases of bowel cancer in the UK are directly or indirectly linked to alcohol consumption.

Overall, the evidence suggests that there is a clear link between alcohol consumption and an increased risk of bowel cancer. The more alcohol you drink, the higher your risk of developing this potentially life-threatening disease.

How to Reduce The Risk of Bowel Cancer

Although anybody can get bowel cancer, there are ways you can potentially reduce your risk of developing this disease.

First of all, eating a healthy, balanced diet rich in fruits, vegetables, whole grains and proteins can help protect you from bowel cancer. Be sure to include plenty of fibre in your diet to keep your digestive system healthy.

Being overweight or obese is considered a significant risk factor for bowel cancer. To reduce the risk, it can be helpful to manage your weight through a healthy diet and exercise.

Regular exercise is essential for your overall health and can lower the risk of bowel cancer. Aim for at least 30 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise each day. This can include swimming, cycling, or a brisk walk.

Smoking can also be a risk factor for different types of cancer, including bowel cancer. One of the best ways you can reduce the risk of bowel cancer (and improve your overall health) is quitting smoking.

Genetics can also come into play. If you have a family history of bowel cancer or other hereditary conditions, talk to your doctor about your risk factors and any additional screening or preventive measures you may need.

Bowel screening programmes can help detect colorectal cancer early when it's easier to treat. If you're eligible for bowel screening, make sure to attend regular screenings as recommended by your healthcare provider.

If you regularly abuse alcohol, it can be helpful to limit your alcohol consumption. If you choose to drink, do so in moderation and aim to stay within recommended limits. Likewise, it can be helpful to stop drinking alcohol every night and give yourself rest days between drinking. Ultimately, the less alcohol you consume, the lower your risk of cancer.

However, if you have an alcohol addiction, limiting your consumption can be difficult. Read on to find out how you can stop drinking alcohol and overcome your alcohol addiction.

Stop Drinking Today With Help4Addiction

If you're concerned about your alcohol consumption and its impact on your health, Help4Addiction is here to support you on your journey to sobriety.

We understand that overcoming alcohol addiction can be challenging, but you don't have to do it alone. Whether it be for yourself, a loved one or a relative, our addiction experts at Help4Addiction are on hand to help connect you with the most suitable rehab clinic or treatment program.

Our team of experienced professionals is dedicated to sourcing effective care for those struggling with alcoholism and addiction. We believe that everyone deserves a chance to live a fulfilling and alcohol-free life, and we're here to help you every step of the way.

Don't let alcohol control your life any longer. Take the first step towards a healthier, happier future by reaching out to Help4Addiction today. With our support and guidance, you can overcome addiction and reduce your risk of alcohol-related cancers, including bowel cancer.

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