A common term we use for ethanol or ethyl alcohol is alcohol, it is a  chemical substance found in wine, beer, and liquor, as well as in some medicines, mouthwashes, household products, and essential oils (scented liquids taken from plants). If we talk about the production of alcohol, it is produced by the fermentation of sugars and starches by yeast. “Responsible drinking” has become a 21st-century mantra for how most people take consumption of alcohol. But when it comes to cancer, you can’t say any amount of alcohol is safe. That conclusion we got from the 2014 World Cancer Report (WCR), issued by the World Health Organization’s International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC).

Fariha Naz11Ms. Fariha Naz had served as a trainee clinical psychologist in Psychiatry Department of Jinnah hospital and Mayo Hospital Lahore. These training periods included assessment and management of psychological disorders. In Mayo Hospital she worked in play settings, where she worked on psychological testing. During her training period she consulted books of psychiatry for getting extensive knowledge on medicine for psychiatric patients. She has also conducted workshop on stress management.

Editor:  Ms. Shumaila Batool

Based on broad reviews of research studies, there is a strong scientific agreement of an association among alcohol drinking and numerous types of cancer. In its Report on Carcinogens, the National Toxicology Program of the US Department of Health and Human Services lists consumption of alcoholic beverages as a known human carcinogen. The research evidence indicates that the more alcohol a person drinks particularly the more alcohol a person drinks regularly over time the higher his or her risk of rising an alcohol-associated cancer. Based on data from 2009, an estimated 3.5 percent of all cancer deaths in the United States (about 19,500 deaths) were alcohol related.


If we see chemistry, alcohol (ethanol) is converted into a toxic chemical called acetaldehyde in our bodies. It can be a major cause of cancer by damaging our DNA and stopping our cells from repairing this damage. The International Agency for Research on Cancer has classified acetaldehyde formed as a result of drinking alcohol as being a cause of cancer, along with alcohol itself. Acetaldehyde also plays important role in making liver cells to grow faster than normal. These regenerating cells are more likely to pick up changes in their genes that could lead to cancer. Ethanol is broken down mainly by the liver, but lots of other cell types can do this as well. Some of the bacteria that live in our mouths and the linings of our guts are also able to convert ethanol into acetaldehyde.

Alcohol can increase the levels of some hormones, such as oestrogen. Hormones act as messengers in the body, giving our cells instructions such as when to divide. Unusually high levels of oestrogen increase the risk of breast cancer.

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