Heavy Drinking Raises Stomach Cancer Risk


A new European study suggests that heavy drinkers have a higher risk of contracting stomach cancer compared to light drinkers. Previous studies had reached mixed conclusions on the link between drinking and stomach cancer. This latest study monitored greater than 500,000 European adults and found that heavy drinking men have a higher risk of developing stomach cancer compared to light drinkers.

Beer is More Risky
At the outset of the study, more than 10,000 men admitted to drinking at least four drinks every day. Over the next decade, their risk of contracting stomach cancer was twice more than light drinkers who consumed about half a drink every day. The most dangerous alcohol type was beer which was more risky compared to liquor or wine.

Small Overall Risk
No similar connection was found among women, only about 2,300 of whom admitted to be heavy drinkers. These findings were published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. The findings do not prove that it is alcohol that causes stomach cancer in men. The overall risk also seems to be small. Of the 13,000 adults who drank heavily, only 33 went on to develop stomach cancer.

Heavy Drinking is Dangerous
Health experts recommend moderate drinking which is a maximum of two drinks every day for men and just one for women. Heavy drinking can cause throat and mouth cancers as well as liver scarring. Stomach cancer is a relatively rare ailment in the US, with only about 21,500 cases reported every year.

Why Beer can Cause Cancer
This latest study suggests that heavy drinking can cause stomach cancer regardless of whether the drinker is also a smoker. The reason why alcohol can cause stomach cancer is a byproduct called acetaldehyde which is a known carcinogen. Besides, beer contains chemicals called nitrosamines, which can cause cancer in animals. Thus, a combination of acetaldehyde and nitrosamines may be the reason why beer is linked to stomach cancer, as suggested by this study.

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