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How excessive drinking can affect your health

By The Health News Team | August 18, 2022
Friends drinking and celebrating

Who’s up for a “Sunday Funday”? It’s a term frequently used by those who want to enjoy the last day of the weekend before they go back to work or school. And it is often associated with enjoying alcoholic beverages.

However, depending on the number of alcoholic beverages consumed, Sunday Funday — and other excuses for excessive drinking — has the potential to lead to dangerous health effects, including increasing your risk of cancer.

Health risks related to drinking alcohol
Although alcohol might initially seem festive and make people feel happy or uninhibited, the potential impact of drinking should be kept in mind. According to The American Cancer Society, one of the dangers of drinking alcohol is the development of breast cancer, the most common cancer in women in the U.S. besides skin cancers.

In fact, studies reviewed by the National Library of Medicine linked drinking alcohol to cancer and found that the risk of female breast cancer increased even with very light drinking. And the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports drinking too much alcohol can lead to other harmful health effects, including:

  • Development of chronic disease

  • Increased visits to the ER due to injuries

  • Mental health problems

  • Weakened immune system

  • Learning and memory problems

  • Alcohol poisoning

  • Social problems, including risky behaviors

Alternatives to drinking alcohol
“Cutting alcohol from your life completely is the best option,” says Dr. Marilyn Norton, an oncologist affiliated with Sharp Chula Vista Medical Center. “But it might not be realistic.”

The next best option, she says, is to evaluate your drinking habits, especially before spending time with friends and loved ones and at events. Other helpful approaches include:

  • Setting boundaries for how many drinks you will have at an event.

  • Incorporating alcohol-free activities into your social life, such as group walks or classes.

  • Offering or choosing alcohol-free drinks, such as iced tea or mocktails.

A healthy diet and exercising are also important components of keeping the body healthy to help reduce cancer risk. “Finding a balance between having fun and living a healthy lifestyle is important to reduce the risk of breast cancer and other long-term harmful medical conditions,” says Dr. Norton.

Learn more about breast cancer diagnosis and treatment at Sharp.

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