Alcohol and bowel cancer
Bowel cancer, also called colorectal cancer or colon cancer, is any cancer that affects the colon (large bowel) and rectum (back passage). It is the fourth most common cancer in the UK.
According to the World Cancer Research Fund, around 7% of bowel cancer cases in the UK are linked to alcohol consumption.
As with other cancers, the exact means by which alcohol affects bowel cancer isn’t fully understood. One explanation is that, in the colon and the rectum, bacteria can convert alcohol into large amounts of a chemical compound called acetaldehyde, which causes cancer by damaging DNA and preventing cells from repairing the damage.
Reducing your risk
You will likely reduce your risk of developing bowel cancer by cutting back on your alcohol consumption. Research from the International Agency for Research on Cancer has found that consuming more than one alcoholic drink a day is related to an increased risk of bowel cancer.
Other lifestyle changes will also likely reduce the risk, including taking regular exercise and adopting a diet rich in fruit and vegetables.
Read more about how alcohol affects your health.