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How Alcohol Can Affect Your Health

How Alcohol Can Affect Your Health

Alcohol and cancer risk

The toxic effects of alcohol have been widely reported and moderation is best whenever alcohol is consumed. From a nutritional standpoint, alcohol is high in calories and contains very few nutrients, particularly troublesome because it either replaces other essential and nutritious foods or adds excess calories. Cancer researchers have found a link between heavy drinking and increased risk for developing cancers of the head, neck and esophagus. Heavy drinking is often defined as obtaining 25 percent or more of total daily calories in the form of ethanol, the alcoholic part of alcoholic beverages. The combination of smoking and heavy drinking greatly increases the risk for these types of cancer.

Several studies have suggested that even moderate alcohol consumption, two drinks or less per day, might increase a woman’s chances of developing breast cancer. Other data suggest that colorectal cancer and pancreatic cancer risks are greatly increased with moderate drinking.

Tips on decreasing alcohol consumption

While decreasing alcohol consumption is good for your health and your waistline, to control calories you need to be sure that you do not substitute something equally high in calories for alcohol.

  • Choose nutrition-packed, low calorie tomato or tomato-vegetable juices. Add lemon juice, pepper and/or hot sauce for more flavor if desired.
  • Fruit juice is a good source of nutrients, but has so much natural sugar that it is not really a low-calorie drink. For a refreshing low-calorie beverage, use just ¼ glass of orange juice and fill the rest of the glass with club soda or mineral water.
  • If you have used alcohol to deal with stress or emotions, get in the habit of turning to other, more positive, outlets. Go for a walk, exercise, develop hobbies, keep a diary as an emotional outlet, or talk it out.
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