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Alcohol’s dangers to the body are well-known, from diseases like cirrhosis to auto accidents and the emotional and financial distress caused by being in the alcoholic’s world. For thousands of women each year, excessive alcohol use also brings the risk of breast cancer. WhiteSands Alcohol and Drug Rehab, a top-rated addiction treatment center in Florida, is calling attention to this less-known but potentially devastating connection.
WhiteSands, which is spotlighting the link as part of October’s observation of Breast Cancer Awareness Month, notes that several respected research organizations have reported the correlation:
An estimated 19,345 women were diagnosed with alcohol-related breast cancer last year, according to the Alcohol Research Group and the University of California’s California Breast Cancer Research Program. Some 4% to 10% of breast cancer cases yearly are due to alcohol use.
The American Cancer Society says alcohol use accounts for about 6% of all cancers and 4% of all cancer deaths in the United States and calls alcohol use “one of the most important preventable risk factors for cancer, along with tobacco use and excess body weight.”
The National Breast Cancer Foundation reports that frequent drinking can increase your risk for breast cancer, and the risk increases with every drink. Statistics point to a surprising amount of risk. The danger increases by 7% to 10% for every 10 grams of alcohol consumed daily by an adult woman, the National Institute of Health reports.
It’s not known exactly how alcohol affects cancer risk, but researchers believe there are several factors to explain it.
Alcohol can cause changes to the drinker’s DNA because alcohol-damaged cells try to repair themselves. In the process of repair, the cells can end up with DNA mistakes, which could lead to cancer.
Alcohol might harm the body’s ability to absorb nutrients such as folate, a vitamin essential to good health. This may be even worse in heavy drinkers, who may already be consuming less folate than they should. Low folate levels may play a role in the risk of some cancers, such as breast and colorectal cancer.
Other lifestyle factors may also tie excessive alcohol use to breast cancer. For example, people struggling with alcoholism and other addictions often pay little attention to their health; lack of physical activity and a diet high in saturated fats are known risk factors for breast cancer.
The American Cancer Society recommends the safest course is to avoid alcohol altogether but recognizes that it’s not possible for everyone. If abstinence is not realistic, it’s recommended to limit consumption to two drinks a day for men and one drink a day for women. The recommended limit is lower for women because women tend to be smaller than men and their bodies tend to break down alcohol more slowly, so the alcohol is in their system longer.
Whether it leads to breast cancer or another damaging condition, alcohol addiction is a destructive force that WhiteSands’ clinical and medical professionals are dedicated to helping clients overcome. Addiction specialists focus on the harmful addictive behavior that is leading clients to enter treatment. They help clients examine other areas of life for potential addictive behaviors, such as work, exercise, food, spending money or sex addictions, and create a detailed relapse prevention plan that monitors each of these other areas of life prone to addiction. Programs are highly individualized, with smaller therapeutic groups and a high ratio of staff to patients.
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November 10, 2022 – Florida Woman Praises WhiteSands in Tampa as Best Alcohol & Drug Rehab Center