Does my after-work drink raise my risk of cancer?

6:07 PM, Mar 29, 2011   |    comments
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By Kay Quinn, Healthbeat Reporter

St. Louis, MO (KSDK) - It may be one of the ways you choose to unwind at the end of the day.

But could your daily glass of wine or beer after work raise your risk of cancer?

"Alcohol causes cancer by acting on the DNA, genetic material in cells," says Dr. Graham Colditz, a cancer researcher at Siteman Cancer Center.

It also lowers levels of folate, a nutrient key to helping cells divide and repair themselves.

National recommendations say women should have no more than one drink a day, men two. After that, the increase in cancer risk is measurable.

"With each additional drink, there's a 10 percent increase in the risk of breast cancer, colon cancer and then the head and neck and liver cancers," says Dr. Colditz.

What about the argument that say red wine is good for the heart?

Dr. Colditz says that may be so, but whether you're enjoying wine, beer or spirits, there's no form of alcohol that won't raise your cancer risk.

"The important thing is this is modifiable," says Dr. Colditz.  "We can cut back, we can stop at one drink or two drinks, we don't need to keep on going.

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