Drinking and Bowel Cancer

Most of us know that over-indulging in alcohol is bad for our health, but did you know a moderate amount can also do you harm? According to a new study, moderate drinking can increase your risk of developing bowel cancer. Even just one or two drinks a day could be putting your health at risk.

Here, we look at what the recent study found and why it might be time to cut back on your alcohol consumption in 2023.

Alcohol and its link to bowel cancer

Published in the Lancet Oncology Journal, the recent study aimed to assess the global burden of alcohol-related cancers. Researchers discovered that a staggering 741,300 of new global cancer cases in 2020 were linked to alcohol consumption.

Males were found to be most at risk, and it was discovered most alcohol related cancers occur in the oesophagus. However, it also showed that 13% of study participants developed colon and rectal cancers.

Interestingly, the study also revealed demographic links. Those living in Romania, Mongolia, China, and Moldova, were found to have a higher risk of developing alcohol related cancers.

The most significant finding was that drinking just one or two alcoholic beverages a day increased the risk of bowel and other cancers.

Alcohol use increased during pandemic

This latest study comes after alcohol consumption rose dramatically in 2020. The global pandemic led to an increase in excessive drinking. Now, experts are worried about the long-term effects this will have on the NHS.

During the lockdowns, moderate drinkers consumed less alcohol, while heavy drinkers consumed more. Now, there is a worry that there will be thousands more admissions to hospital for disease, alongside premature deaths.

The number of alcohol related bowel cancer cases, particularly amongst men, is likely to increase over the next decade.

Other risk factors for bowel cancer

Alcohol isn’t the only risk factor for bowel cancer. While the exact cause isn’t known, the following factors are linked to a higher risk of developing the disease:

  • A family history of the disease
  • Aged 50 or over
  • Long-term inflammatory bowel disease (IBD)
  • History of non-cancerous growths
  • Type 2 Diabetes
  • Unhealthy lifestyle

If you do have a family history of the disease, you should aim to lower your risk factors as much as possible. While not all cancer cases can be prevented, switching to a healthier lifestyle can help lower the risk. Also, attending a regular colonoscopy can help to detect bowel cancer early.

Make sure you are getting plenty of exercise and eating healthily. Also aim to reduce your alcohol consumption, especially if you currently drink one or two alcoholic beverages a day. If you are struggling, speak to your GP – they can help guide you.

If you are worried about your risk of developing bowel cancer, book an appointment with Professor Jamie Murphy today.