Scientists Link Too Much Alcohol To Cancer

The scientists working at the Cancer Research say too much alcohol could set off a chain of reactions in the body that makes the skin more vulnerable to cancer.

They say ethanol is converted to acetaldehyde soon after ingestion and this compound may render the skin more sensitive to harmful UV light.

Authors of the work in the British Journal of Dermatology admit that other forces may also be to blame.

Research has shown that most cases of melanoma are caused by overexposure to UV rays which can be reduced by avoiding sunburn.

According to their work, which looked at 16 different studies involving thousands of participants, consuming an alcoholic drink or more a day increases skin cancer risk by a fifth.

The studies found out that risk increased proportionately with alcohol intake – those who drank 50g of ethanol daily (the equivalent of a few strong beers) were up to 55% more likely to develop the deadliest form of skin cancer called melanoma compared with none or occasional drinkers.

Prof Chris Bunker, President of the British Association of Dermatologists, said: "Skin cancer is the most common type of cancer in the UK and melanoma is its deadliest form. Any research into this area is very welcome.

Sarah Williams of Cancer Research UK said, "This study doesn't tell us for sure whether alcohol is a risk factor for melanoma. As the researchers themselves point out, the results could be due to sunlight exposure rather than alcohol. Research has clearly shown that most cases of melanoma are caused by overexposure to UV rays – you can reduce the risk by avoiding sunburn."

"And whether or not alcohol is linked to skin cancers, it's still a good idea to limit the amount you drink. Alcohol is linked to seven different types of cancer, and cutting down can cut the risk." Williams said.

By Beth Nyaga

Source: BBC News

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