By: Dr. Thomas Incledon
Does drinking alcohol cause liver cancer?
The old adage “everything in moderation” comes to mind in answering this question because the answer is more complicated than a simple “yes” or “no.” Drinking alcohol is a definite and clear risk factor for developing liver cancer, but it is not the only one and not everyone who drinks will develop liver cancer. Drinking is correlated to liver cancer with extensive and prolonged use of alcohol, including beer and wine. The ethanol is alcohol is the substance that causes damage to the liver over time and it is found in every type of alcoholic drink.
Ethanol acts as an irritant in the body, which makes cells try to repair themselves. This process can cause DNA damage, which we know can lead to cancer. In our bodies, liver function is key as it plays a role in how we store nutrients, digest food, and clear the body of toxins. If you are adding too much alcohol, which is a toxin to your body when ingested in large quantities, you are inhibiting natural liver function and over time, this can lead to cancer.
Drinking alcohol is not the only risk factor for liver cancer. Others include:
- Race – in the U.S. Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders are at the highest risk
- Chronic infection with Hepatitis B or Hepatitis C, as well as cirrhosis
- Type 2 diabetes
- Anabolic steroid and tobacco use
- Contaminated water – arsenic within the water supply is still a challenge in certain parts of the country
Liver cancer starts in the cells of the liver (hepatocellular carcinoma) and if cancer spreads to other parts of the body, it is labeled liver metastasis. People that have liver cancer may have white, chalky stools; a yellow discoloration in the skin and whites of the eyes; nausea and vomiting; upper abdominal pain; and loss of appetite.
“Be aware of your body and changes to it,” says Dr. Tom Incledon, founder & CEO of Causenta. “Often, patients will say, I was feeling fine until my spouse noticed by eyes were turning yellow.” The concern with this sort of comment is that as the disease progresses, symptoms intensify and jaundice, the yellowing of body tissue – occurs more commonly is later stages of liver cancer. “It’s always best to get regular check-ups and if you’re concerned about something, find out what it is,” says Incledon. “It’s better to know early on and be able to successfully address it, even if the diagnosis is something scary like cancer.”
As with other cancers, there are three standard of care treatment options, including surgery, chemotherapy and radiation. At Causenta our experienced and dedicated team of physicians, nutritionists, physical therapists and exercise scientists, works together to create a holistic plan for each patient. “We do this because every person’s body and cancer is unique,” says Incledon. “What works for one person won’t work for another even if they both have liver cancer. We also continually evaluate progress to ensure the steps we are taking are working, so we know when we need to switch gears to help patients achieve the ultimate outcome of beating their cancer.”
For more information on liver cancer risk factors, treatment and holistic cancer care with Causenta, schedule your complimentary 30-minute consultation today.