Many people enjoy a glass of wine with their dinner. An occasional drink of alcohol in an otherwise healthy person is not harmful. However, did you know that regular consumption of alcohol can increase your risk of breast cancer, liver cancer and oral cancer? The National Cancer Institute recommends that women have no more than one drink per day and men have no more than two drinks per day. This is because women have less total body water than men and are not able to easily dilute the effects of alcohol. This causes alcohol to stay in the body longer and affect important organs such as liver and brain. A drink is defined as 12 ounces of regular beer, 5 ounces of wine, or 1.5 ounces of 80-proof liquor. Alcohol also contains many calories resulting in weight gain. Increased body weight can further increase risk of cancers of breast, colon, uterus, pancreas and kidneys. Obesity also increases risk of diabetes, stroke and heart disease.
So the next time you are ready to drink, read the label and select a drink with least calories per serving or add diet soda or water to create a low-calorie blend. Also pick a drink with the least amount of alcohol content as noted by ABV% (alcohol by volume percentage) or an alcohol-proof number.
A popular question often asked is “does red wine decrease risk of cancer?” The cancer fighting property of grapes comes from the antioxidant resveratrol. The red and purple grapes contain more resveratrol than green grapes and hence red wine may be a better choice than white wine. Studies have shown that small amounts of alcohol may also be protective for the heart. However, other research has shown that drinking even small amounts of alcohol can increase chances of developing cancer. While these reports are conflicting, the safer choice may be to completely abstain from regular drinking or at the least to limit daily alcohol consumption to one drink for women and two drinks for men.
Besides cancer, heavy drinking can damage cells throughout the body and result in other problems including cirrhosis of the liver, high blood pressure, stroke, inflammation of pancreas, osteoporosis and damage to the brain. If you are pregnant or planning pregnancy, it is critical to completely abstain from alcohol since it is well known to cause birth defects.I always like to remind people that it is never too late to cut back on alcohol consumption and choose healthier alternatives such as even water and other low calorie drinks. Start protecting your body from harmful effects of alcohol on multiple organs in your body. Today is a new day to make a healthy beginning!
Dr. Priya Rudolph, a graduate from Yale University is an experienced hematologist/oncologist with Georgia Cancer Specialists affiliated with Northside Hospital Cancer Institute (www.gacancer.com). She has offices in Athens (ph 706-369-4478) and in Greensboro (Ph 706 454-0159). Georgia Cancer Specialists is a top 10 privately owned practice and is a national leader in advanced cancer treatment and research. Its physicians and staff offer many clinical trials and state of the art personalized care to each individual patient.