Alcohol, Folic Acid, and Breast Cancer Risk





 

A new study shows that both regular alcohol intake and decreased folic acid intake significantly increase breast cancer risk.


 

 

 

ALCOHOL, FOLIC ACID, AND BREAST CANCER RISK

As I discuss in my bestselling book, A Cancer Prevention Guide for the Human Race, alcohol is an underappreciated risk factor for multiple types of cancer, including breast cancer.  (As little as one alcoholic drink per day has been shown to increase breast cancer risk in women.)  The mechanism, or mechanisms, whereby alcohol increases breast cancer risk is not well understood, although some have conjectured that increased levels of estrogen, which accompany regular alcohol intake, may be one such mechanism.

The vitamin folic acid (sometimes referred to as Vitamin B9) has multiple functions, including DNA synthesis and DNA repair.  Folate deficiency can occur for a variety of reasons, including frequent or excess alcohol intake.  Because of alcohol’s ability to decrease folic acid absorption and increase folic acid excretion, some experts have also proposed that regular alcohol intake may increase breast cancer risk by depleting the body’s stores of folic acid.

Now, a new public health study, published in the European Journal of Cancer Prevention, adds important new information about the impact of both alcohol and folic acid on breast cancer risk.

In this Japanese case-control study, 1,754 women with breast cancer and 3,508 age-matched patients without breast cancer were evaluated.  Alcohol and folic acid intake was assessed for all of the women who participated in this clinical study; and other known breast cancer risk factors were identified and adjusted for.

As has been shown in multiple other studies, increasing levels of alcohol intake were associated with an increasing risk of breast cancer.  Compared with non-drinkers, women who consumed 23 grams or more of alcohol per day experienced a 39 percent increase in the risk of developing breast cancer.  (A single standard alcoholic beverage contains about 14 grams of alcohol.)

In this study, an increased dietary intake of folic acid was associated with a decreased risk of developing breast cancer.  When compared to women with the lowest intake of folic acid, women who took the highest amount of folic acid in their diet experienced a 21 percent decrease in the risk of developing breast cancer.

In view of the known effects of alcohol on folic acid absorption and excretion, the authors of this study also sought to determine whether or not folic acid intake affected the risk of breast cancer associated with alcohol consumption.  Based upon the findings of this study, it does, in fact, appear that folic acid has some potential beneficial impact on breast cancer risk associated with alcohol intake.  Among women with very low folic acid intake, the consumption of at least 23 grams of alcohol per day was associated with a whopping 58 percent increase in the risk of breast cancer.  At the same time, higher levels of folate intake seemed to significantly reduce any apparent increase in breast cancer risk associated with regular alcohol consumption.

Based upon the findings of this important public health study, the average daily consumption of more than one-and-a-half servings of alcohol per day was associated with a significant increase in breast cancer risk.  Additionally, this study found that low dietary levels of folic acid also significantly increased breast cancer risk.  Moreover, the combination of daily alcohol consumption and low folic acid intake was associated with more than twice the risk of developing breast cancer than regular alcohol consumption or low folic acid intake alone, while higher levels of folic acid intake appeared to be protective against breast cancer associated with regular alcohol consumption.  Therefore, the findings of this study suggest that breast cancer risk can be significantly decreased by decreasing one’s alcohol intake, combined with a diet that contains adequate amounts of folic acid.

 

Get your copy of A Cancer Prevention Guide for the Human Race, and begin living an evidence-based cancer prevention lifestyle today!

 

 

Links to Other Breaking Health News (New Feature)

New Egg-Free Flu Vaccine

Graphic Cigarette Labels in Australia

Predicting Childhood Obesity at Birth

Inexpensive Power Foods

 


A Cancer Prevention Guide for the Human Race is now available in both printed and digital formats from all major bookstores.


Dr. Wascher’s latest video:

Dark as Night, Part 1


Dark as Night, Part 1

Dark as Night, Part 1



At this time, more than 8 percent of Americans are unemployed.  According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, however, the unemployment rate for veterans who served on active duty between September 2001 and December 2011 is now more than 12 percent.  A new website, Veterans in Healthcare, seeks to connect veterans with potential employers.  If you are a veteran who works in the healthcare field, or if you are an employer who is looking for physicians, advanced practice professionals, nurses, corpsmen/medics, or other healthcare professionals, then please take a look at Veterans in Healthcare. As a retired veteran of the U.S. Army, I would also like to personally urge you to hire a veteran whenever possible.


For a groundbreaking overview of cancer risks, and evidence-based strategies to reduce your risk of developing cancer, order your copy of my bestselling book, “A Cancer Prevention Guide for the Human Race,” from AmazonBarnes & NobleBooks-A-MillionVroman’s Bookstore, and other fine bookstores!

Within one week of publication, A Cancer Prevention Guide for the Human Race was ranked #6 among all cancer-related books on the Amazon.com “Top 100 Bestseller’s List” for Kindle e-books. Within three months of publication, A Cancer Prevention Guide for the Human Race was the #1 book on the Amazon.comTop 100 New Book Releases in Cancer” list.




Disclaimer:  As always, my advice to readers is to seek the advice of your physician before making any significant changes in medications, diet, or level of physical activity


 

Dr. Wascher is an oncologic surgeon, professor of surgery, cancer researcher, oncology consultant, and a widely published author


 

I and the staff of Weekly Health Update would again like to take this opportunity to thank the more than 100,000 health-conscious people from around the world who visit this premier global health information website every month.  Over the past 12 months, 2,017,594 pages of high-quality medical research findings were served to the worldwide audience of health-conscious readers.  As always, we enjoy receiving your stimulating feedback and questions, and I will continue to try and personally answer as many of your inquiries as I possibly can.



 



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Lifestyle, Diet and Diabetes Risk

Welcome to Weekly Health Update


New research reveals the profound impact of diet, obesity, and lifestyle factors on diabetes risk.



 

 

LIFESTYLE, DIET AND DIABETES RISK

Along with the incidence of obesity, the incidence of diabetes has recently skyrocketed in the United States and around the world.  The list of health complications associated with diabetes is frightening, and includes heart disease, peripheral vascular disease, stroke, kidney failure, progressive blindness, and as I discuss in my book, A Cancer Prevention Guide for the Human Race, an increased risk of cancer.

Now, a newly published clinical research study, which included more than 200,000 adult volunteers, sheds important light on the major lifestyle-associated risk factors for this life-threatening disease.  Nearly 2 million adults will be newly diagnosed with diabetes this year in the United States, and nearly 80 million Americans are currently living with diabetes at this time. In fact, diabetes has become such a serious public health problem that it is now considered the seventh leading cause of death in the United States!

This newly published prospective public health study appears in the current issue of the Annals of Internal Medicine, and was sponsored by the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute and the National Cancer Institute, as part of the National Institutes of Health-AARP Diet and Health Study.

A total of 114, 996 men and 92,483 women, aged 50 to 71 years, participated in this public health study; and this huge group of research volunteers was closely followed for an average of 10 years. Importantly, none of these research volunteers had diabetes, heart disease, or cancer at the time they initially joined this research study.

After evaluating diet, level of physical activity, smoking status, and alcohol intake, this enormous group of research volunteers was assessed for the risk of onset of diabetes according to these lifestyle factors. Altogether, about 10 percent of the men and 8 percent of the women went on to develop diabetes during the 10-year course of this public health study. When compared to men who ate poorly and did not exercise, and who also smoked and regularly consumed alcohol, the men who had very healthy behaviors in these same areas had a 39 percent lower risk of developing diabetes, while the women with healthy lifestyle behaviors experienced a 57 percent lower risk of diabetes when compared to the women with unhealthy lifestyle behaviors. Even more impressive was the additive role of obesity on diabetes risk. When all of the previously mentioned healthy lifestyle behaviors were combined with the absence of being overweight or obese, men experienced a whopping 72 percent decrease in the risk of diabetes, while women experienced an extraordinary 84 percent reduction in the risk of developing diabetes. Importantly, these dramatic reductions in the risk of diabetes were maintained even among the men and women who had a family history of diabetes or obesity.

This huge prospective public health study adds important and helpful information to our understanding regarding the most important risk factors for diabetes, and reveals just how important eating a healthy diet, maintaining a healthy weight, getting regular exercise, abstaining from tobacco use, and minimizing alcohol intake are to the prevention of diabetes.  Other large public health studies have also conclusively linked these healthy lifestyle-associated behaviors with a significant reduction in the risk of cardiovascular disease (including heart disease, peripheral vascular disease, and stroke) and cancer, as well!




For a comprehensive guide to living an evidence-based cancer prevention lifestyle, order your copy of my new book, A Cancer Prevention Guide for the Human Race.  For the price of a cheeseburger, fries, and a shake, you can purchase this landmark new book, in both paperback and e-book formats, and begin living an evidence-based cancer prevention lifestyle today!

For a groundbreaking overview of cancer risks, and evidence-based strategies to reduce your risk of developing cancer, order your copy of my new book, A Cancer Prevention Guide for the Human Race,” from Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Books-A-Million,Vroman’s Bookstore, and other fine bookstores!

On Thanksgiving Day, 2010, A Cancer Prevention Guide for the Human Race was ranked #6 among all cancer-related books on the Amazon.com “Top 100 Bestseller’s List” for Kindle e-books! On Christmas Day, 2010, A Cancer Prevention Guide for the Human Race was the #1 book on the Amazon.comTop 100 New Book Releases in Cancer” list!


Disclaimer:  As always, my advice to readers is to seek the advice of your physician before making any significant changes in medications, diet, or level of physical activity


Dr. Wascher is an oncologic surgeon, professor of surgery, cancer researcher, oncology consultant, and a widely published author


For a different perspective on Dr. Wascher, please click on the following YouTube link:

Texas Blues Jam


I and the staff of Weekly Health Update would again like to take this opportunity to thank the more than 100,000 health-conscious people, from around the world, who visit this premier global health information website every month. (More than 1.2 million health-conscious people visited Weekly Health Update in 2010!) As always, we enjoy receiving your stimulating feedback and questions, and I will continue to try and personally answer as many of your inquiries as I possibly can.





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Obesity, Alcohol, Smoking and Breast Cancer Risk

Welcome to Weekly Health Update


“A critical weekly review of important new research findings for health-conscious readers”




OBESITY, ALCOHOL, SMOKING AND BREAST CANCER RISK

As I discuss in detail in my recent book, A Cancer Prevention Guide for the Human Race, there are several important lifestyle and dietary factors that have been linked to cancer risk by numerous high-level research studies. Moreover, breast cancer risk, as well as the risk of several other hormone-responsive cancers in particular, appears to be especially associated with potentially modifiable lifestyle and dietary factors, including obesity, alcohol intake, smoking, lack of physical activity, high-fat diets (and diets rich in animal-based foods, specifically), as well as other modifiable risk factors.

While certain lifestyle and dietary risk factors linked to breast cancer risk have been confirmed by numerous research studies, the underlying mechanisms whereby these risk factors increase breast cancer risk has not been entirely clear. Now, a comprehensive new review of 13 prospective breast cancer public health studies sheds important light on the important topic of breast cancer prevention, and provides much-needed insight into how our own personal habits may directly increase our risk of developing breast cancer. The findings of this new cancer prevention study are scheduled to appear in the next issue of theBritish Journal of Cancer.

Of the 13 prospective clinical research studies that were analyzed in this report, 7 were performed in the United States, 1 was performed as part of a multinational European study, and 1 each was performed in Australia, Italy, Japan, Sweden, and the United Kingdom. Altogether, 6,291 women were evaluated in these 13 prospective public health studies.

As has been shown in many previous studies, this report confirmed that women with high levels of the sex hormones estrogen and testosterone in their blood are 2 to 3 times more likely to develop breast cancer when compared with women who have low circulating levels of these hormones.

Among postmenopausal women, who make up the great majority of all new breast cancer cases, the single most significant risk factor for having elevated levels of estrogen in the blood was obesity, in this study. Although obesity has long been known to be a risk factor both for developing breast cancer and for experiencing a recurrence of a prior breast cancer, it has not been entirely clear how excess body weight actually causes breast cancer risk to increase. (Aromatase, an enzyme that is manufactured by fat cells, is known to increase the production of estrogen in overweight and obese women and men, and has long been suspected to contribute to breast cancer risk in obese women.) Perhaps the most important finding of this new report, therefore, is to confirm the long-suspected linkage between excess weight and elevated levels of estrogen in the blood. Increased estrogen levels, in turn, are known to increase a woman’s risk of developing breast cancer.

The findings of this report also indicate that, second only to obesity, regular alcohol intake and smoking were the next most significant lifestyle-related factors associated with an increased circulating level of estrogen and other sex hormones. (Both alcohol and smoking have previously, and consistently, been linked to breast cancer risk. Indeed, as I discuss in A Cancer Prevention Guide for the Human Race, women who consume 2 or more alcoholic beverages per day have been shown, by multiple studies, to experience a significant increase in breast cancer risk, as well as an increased risk of several other cancers.)

While some breast cancer risk factors (such as gender, age, and family history) cannot be changed, this new report, and the research studies which it analyzes, confirms that women can significantly reduce their risk of developing breast cancer by making evidence-based changes in their lifestyle and diet. When it comes to cancer, an ounce of cancer prevention really is worth a ton of cancer treatment or cancer cure.



For a comprehensive guide to living an evidence-based cancer prevention lifestyle, order your copy of my new book, A Cancer Prevention Guide for the Human Race.  For the price of a cheeseburger, fries, and a shake, you can purchase this landmark new book, in both paperback and e-book formats, and begin living an evidence-based cancer prevention lifestyle today!

For a groundbreaking overview of cancer risks, and evidence-based strategies to reduce your risk of developing cancer, order your copy of my new book, A Cancer Prevention Guide for the Human Race,” from Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Books-A-Million,Vroman’s Bookstore, and other fine bookstores!

On Thanksgiving Day, 2010, A Cancer Prevention Guide for the Human Race was ranked #6 among all cancer-related books on the Amazon.com “Top 100 Bestseller’s List” for Kindle e-books! On Christmas Day, 2010, A Cancer Prevention Guide for the Human Race was the #1 book on the Amazon.comTop 100 New Book Releases in Cancer” list!


Disclaimer:  As always, my advice to readers is to seek the advice of your physician before making any significant changes in medications, diet, or level of physical activity



Dr. Wascher is an oncologic surgeon, professor of surgery, cancer researcher, oncology consultant, and a widely published author



For a different perspective on Dr. Wascher, please click on the following YouTube link:

Texas Blues Jam



I and the staff of Weekly Health Update would again like to take this opportunity to thank the more than 100,000 health-conscious people, from around the world, who visit this premier global health information website every month. (More than 1.2 million health-conscious people visited Weekly Health Update in 2010!) As always, we enjoy receiving your stimulating feedback and questions, and I will continue to try and personally answer as many of your inquiries as I possibly can.





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Surgeon Performance Impaired After Drinking Alcohol the Day Before Surgery

Welcome to Weekly Health Update


“A critical weekly review of important new research findings for health-conscious readers”



 

SURGEON PERFORMANCE IMPAIRED AFTER DRINKING ALCOHOL THE DAY BEFORE SURGERY

Surgeons, like pilots, are held to a very high standard of conduct when it comes to alcohol and drug use. Unlike pilots, however, there are no rules barring surgeons from having a few beers, or other alcoholic drinks, on the day or evening before they enter the operating room to perform surgery.

While most surgeons drink alcohol responsibly, some surgeons (like people in any other profession) may occasionally have a few more drinks the day or evening before they report for duty than might be considered prudent. When a surgeon has a few more alcoholic drinks than they might have planned on the day before they are scheduled to perform surgery, most will undoubtedly assume that “sleeping it off” overnight will leave them fresh and in tip-top shape to wield the scalpel in the operating room on the next morning. However, a newly published clinical research study suggests otherwise….

A newly published prospective, randomized clinical study, which appears in the latest issue of the Archives of Surgery, included two groups of study volunteers. A total of 8 expert laparoscopic surgeons were included in one group, while the other group consisted of 16 university science students. All 24 participants were trained to use a computer-based laparoscopic surgery training device that is routinely utilized to train new surgeons in laparoscopic surgery skills. The science students were then divided into two groups. The “control” group abstained from alcohol for the 24-hour period prior to being tested on their laparoscopic skills, while the other half of the students (the “experimental group”) were allowed to drink alcohol freely until they felt themselves to be “intoxicated.” The 8 expert laparoscopic surgeons were all permitted to drink alcoholic beverages “until intoxicated.” The following day, all 24 study volunteers were tested on the laparoscopic training device at 9:00 AM, 1:00 PM, and 4:00 PM. All study participants also underwent breathalyzer testing to measure their blood alcohol level, and only one of the volunteers had a blood alcohol level above the legal limit (for driving) of 0.1 percent at 9:00 on the morning after their drinking binge.

Among the science students, performance deteriorated in all of the tested laparoscopic surgery skills among those who had consumed alcohol on the day prior to testing (when compared to the “control group” of students). The outcome was not any better for the expert laparoscopic surgeons, either. These experienced surgeons, all of whom consumed multiple alcoholic drinks on the day before testing, showed significant deterioration in the time that it took them to perform specific laparoscopic surgery skills, as well as a significant deterioration in their coordination and in the number of technical errors that they made. Moreover, this significant deterioration in surgical performance was still detectable at 4:00 PM on the day after these study volunteers had consumed multiple alcoholic beverages, and despite blood alcohol levels well below the legal limit for driving.

As previous research with airline pilots has shown, alcohol consumption within 24 hours of performing critical tasks can cause significant cognitive and physical impairment, even when blood alcohol levels are zero, or near zero. The findings of this clinical study of surgeons came to similar conclusions, and these findings suggest that surgeons should avoid the consumption of multiple alcoholic drinks within 24 hours of entering the operating room.

For a complete evidence-based discussion about how to live an evidence-based cancer prevention lifestyle, order your copy of my new book, A Cancer Prevention Guide for the Human Race For the price of a cheeseburger, fries, and a shake, you can purchase this landmark new book, in both paperback and e-book formats, and begin living an evidence-based cancer prevention lifestyle today!

For a groundbreaking overview of cancer risks, and evidence-based strategies to reduce your risk of developing cancer, order your copy of my new book, A Cancer Prevention Guide for the Human Race,” from Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Books-A-Million, Vroman’s Bookstore, and other fine bookstores!

On Thanksgiving Day, 2010, A Cancer Prevention Guide for the Human Race was ranked #6 among all cancer-related books on the Amazon.com “Top 100 Bestseller’s List” for Kindle e-books! On Christmas Day, 2010, A Cancer Prevention Guide for the Human Race was the #1 book on the Amazon.comTop 100 New Book Releases in Cancer” list!


Disclaimer:  As always, my advice to readers is to seek the advice of your physician before making any significant changes in medications, diet, or level of physical activity



Dr. Wascher is an oncologic surgeon, professor of surgery, cancer researcher, oncology consultant, and a widely published author



For a different perspective on Dr. Wascher, please click on the following YouTube link:

Texas Blues Jam



I and the staff of Weekly Health Update would again like to take this opportunity to thank the more than 100,000 health-conscious people, from around the world, who visit this premier global health information website every month. (More than 1.2 million health-conscious people visited Weekly Health Update in 2010!) As always, we enjoy receiving your stimulating feedback and questions, and I will continue to try and personally answer as many of your inquiries as I possibly can.





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Diet and Lifestyle Habits that Decrease Colorectal Cancer Risk

 

Welcome to Weekly Health Update



“A critical weekly review of important new research findings for health-conscious readers”



DIET AND LIFESTYLE HABITS THAT

DECREASE COLORECTAL CANCER RISK

In the United States, approximately 106,000 people will be newly diagnosed with colorectal cancer in 2010, and nearly 50,000 people will die of this disease.  Colorectal cancer remains the third most common cancer (excluding skin cancer) in both men and women, and the third most common cause of cancer death in men and women.  Unlike many other types of cancer, an effective method of screening for colorectal cancer is available, in the form of colonoscopy.  Fortunately, the incidence of this cancer has been gradually declining over the past 20 years, due in great part to the early detection, and removal, of precancerous polyps from the colon and rectum at the time of colonoscopy.

The links between specific lifestyle choices and the risk of developing certain types of cancer forms much of the basis of my new book, A Cancer Prevention Guide for the Human Race.”  The risk of developing colorectal cancer, in particular, has been strongly linked to multiple dietary and other lifestyle factors.  Now, a newly published public health research study from Denmark puts a number on the effectiveness of commonly recommended cancer prevention lifestyle strategies in preventing colorectal cancer.

In this study, which appears in the current issue of the British Medical Journal, 55,487 men and women between the ages of 50 and 64 were prospectively followed for an average of 10 years.  Each of these Diet, Cancer and Health Cohort Study volunteers completed validated surveys regarding their social status, health status, reproductive history, and daily lifestyle habits.  They also completed a food frequency questionnaire that included, among its 193 items, foods known to be associated with colorectal cancer risk (including alcohol).  All study participants also underwent physical examinations that included measurements of their height, weight, and waist circumference.  During the course of this large prospective public health study, 678 participants were newly diagnosed with colorectal cancer.

All study volunteers were assessed in terms of 5 modifiable lifestyle and dietary factors that have repeatedly been linked to a reduction in colorectal cancer risk:  Increased levels of regular physical activity, avoidance of obesity, abstention from tobacco use, minimal intake of alcohol, and the observance of healthy diet habits (including increased fiber intake, decreased dietary fat content, decreased red meat and processed meat consumption, and increased fresh fruit and vegetable intake).  Based upon only these 5 simple colorectal cancer risk factors, the adoption of any one of these 5 colorectal cancer prevention factors was associated with a 13 percent decrease in the risk of developing colorectal cancer.  Among participants who generally observed all 5 lifestyle and dietary prevention factors, the risk of developing colorectal cancer was reduced by 23 percent.  (Of note, while this observed reduction in the risk of colorectal cancer was noted for both colon cancer and rectal cancer, this finding was only statistically significant for cancer of the colon, specifically.)

The results of this large prospectively conducted public health study reaffirm the findings of previous studies, in that the risk of colorectal cancer can be significantly reduced by: Engaging in regular moderate exercise, maintaining a healthy body weight, avoiding tobacco use, minimizing alcohol consumption, and by reducing the intake of red meat and processed meats and fat, while simultaneously increasing the consumption of fresh fruits, fresh vegetables, and whole grain foods.  For a more detailed evidence-based guide to colorectal cancer prevention, order or download your copy of “A Cancer Prevention Guide for the Human Race” now.  

 

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For a groundbreaking overview of cancer risks, and evidence-based strategies to reduce your risk of developing colorectal cancer, and other types of cancer, order your copy of my new book, A Cancer Prevention Guide for the Human Race,” from Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Books-A-Million, Vroman’s Bookstore, and other fine bookstores!



Disclaimer: As always, my advice to readers is to seek the advice of your physician before making any significant changes in medications, diet, or level of physical activity


Dr. Wascher is an oncologic surgeon, a professor of surgery, a cancer researcher, an oncology consultant, and a widely published author


For a different perspective on Dr. Wascher, please click on the following YouTube link: 

Texas Blues Jam


I and the staff of Weekly Health Update would again like to take this opportunity to thank the more than 100,000 health-conscious people, from around the world, who visit this premier global health information website every month.  (As of 9/16/2010, more than 1,000,000 health-conscious people have logged onto Weekly Health Update so far this year!)  As always, I enjoy receiving your stimulating feedback and questions, and I will continue to try and personally answer as many of your inquiries as I possibly can.


 

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Obesity, Alcohol & Liver Disease

March 21, 2010 by  
Filed under Weekly Health Update

 

Welcome to Weekly Health Update



  “A critical weekly review of important new research findings for health-conscious readers” 

OBESITY, ALCOHOL & LIVER DISEASE

 

Chronic liver disease, including cirrhosis, is the 12th most common cause of death in the United States, alone, and causes nearly 30,000 deaths per year in America.  Increased alcohol intake and obesity are both known risk factors for chronic liver disease.  Moreover, recent research has suggested that the combination of alcohol intake and obesity may synergistically increase the risk of chronic liver disease above and beyond the sum of these two risk factors.  Two newly published prospective, randomized clinical research studies from the United Kingdom further suggest that increased alcohol intake in the presence of obesity significantly increases the risk of chronic liver disease, and premature death related to chronic liver disease.  Both of these studies appear in the current issue of the British Medical Journal.

In the first study, more than 1.2 million women (average age was 56 years) were recruited between 1996 and 2001.  In this Million Woman Study, after an average duration of follow-up of 6.2 years, 1,811 women were either admitted to a hospital with a new diagnosis of cirrhosis, or died of cirrhosis.  Based upon the extensive health data collected from all of the participants in this enormous public health study, both obesity and alcohol intake were proportionally linked to an increased risk of cirrhosis, as well as death due to cirrhosis.  (Note: a standard glass of wine, mixed drink, or beer contains about 0.6 ounces, or 14 grams, of alcohol.)

For every 5 units of BMI above 22.5, the relative risk of cirrhosis increased by 28 percent (BMI is a standard measure of body fat content that is adjusted for height and weight).  Among women who reported the consumption of less than 70 grams of alcohol per week (equivalent to 5 alcoholic drinks per week), the absolute risk of developing cirrhosis, over a period of 5 years, was 20 percent higher in women with a BMI of 30 or more, when compared to non-obese women with normal BMIs (“obesity” is defined as a BMI of 30, or greater; while being “overweight is defined as having a BMI of 25 or greater, but less than 30).  Among the women who reported consuming 150 grams or more of alcohol per week (which is equivalent to 11 or more alcoholic drinks per week), a normal BMI was associated with a 170 percent increase in the absolute risk of developing cirrhosis, while obese women (with a BMI of 30 or greater) who consumed 150 grams or more of alcohol per week experienced a whopping 400 percent increase in the risk of developing cirrhosis!  When this data was extrapolated to the population of the United Kingdom, as a whole, it was determined that alcohol consumption, particularly at higher levels, accounted for 42 percent of all cases of non-fatal and fatal cirrhosis in middle-aged women, while obesity caused an additional 17 percent of all non-fatal and fatal cases of cirrhosis of the liver.

 

In the second published study in the British Medical Journal, data from two prospective clinical studies was analyzed.  A total of 9,559 men participated in these prospective public health studies, with a highly impressive median follow-up of 29 years.  These nearly 10,000 male study participants were divided into separate study groups based upon their measured BMI and their self-reported alcohol intake.

During nearly 3 decades of observation, 80 (0.8 percent) of these male research volunteers died directly due to chronic liver disease, while another 146 (1.5 percent) died of multiple causes, but with liver disease as a contributing cause of death.

As with the previous study, there were significant interactions between alcohol intake, BMI, and chronic liver disease (after adjusting for other known risk factors for chronic liver disease).  In this study, the consumption of 15 or more alcoholic drinks per week in volunteers with a normal BMI more than doubled the relative risk of dying of chronic liver disease when compared to other non-obese men who consumed less than 15 drinks per week.  Among the overweight (but not obese) men who consumed 15 or more alcoholic drinks per week, the relative risk of death due to chronic liver disease was more than 7 times higher than was observed in overweight men who consumed significantly less than 15 drinks per week.  Finally, and most disconcertingly, obese men who consumed 15 or more alcoholic drinks per week experienced nearly 18 times the relative risk of dying from chronic liver disease as compared to their obese counterparts who drank significantly less alcohol.  (Even among obese men who consumed 14 or fewer alcoholic drinks per week, the relative risk of death due to chronic liver disease was still more than 4 times higher than what was observed in obese men who did not drink alcoholic drinks at all.)

Based upon this data, the researchers conducting this study were able to determine that there was a synergistic, enhanced risk of dying from liver disease when alcohol intake was present in addition to being overweight or obese.  This “relative excess risk” due to an interaction between alcohol intake and increasing BMI amounted to 4 times the relative risk of simply adding the individual liver disease risks of increased BMI and alcohol intake.

 

Taken together, these two large prospective public health studies confirm previous observations that both rising levels of excess weight and increasing levels of regular alcohol intake are associated, both separately and together, with an increased risk of chronic liver disease, and death due to chronic liver disease.  Moreover, the combination of obesity and increased alcohol intake appears to be a particularly severe risk factor for the development of chronic liver disease, and for death due to liver disease.  Therefore, in addition to the multiple other health risks associated with obesity and excessive alcohol intake, the results of these two studies should cause all of us to reexamine our lifestyle and dietary habits in our pursuit of better health and greater longevity.

 

To learn more about the role of alcohol and obesity in cancer risk, look for the publication of my new book, “A Cancer Prevention Guide for the Human Race,” in the spring of this year. 



In view of the extreme devastation and human misery brought about in Haiti and Chile by the recent earthquakes, Weekly Health Update asks our tens of thousands of caring readers to give generously to established charities that are currently working in those countries to assist the injured, the ill, and the homeless.  There are many such legitimate charities, including the following two:

http://www.redcross.org/

http://www.imcworldwide.org/haiti


Disclaimer: As always, my advice to readers is to seek the advice of your physician before making any significant changes in medications, diet, or level of physical activity


Dr. Wascher is an oncologic surgeon, a professor of surgery, a cancer researcher, an oncology consultant, and a widely published author



For a different perspective on Dr. Wascher, please click on the following YouTube link: 

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7-Tdv7XW0qg



I and the staff of Weekly Health Update would like to take this opportunity to thank the nearly 120,000 new and returning readers who visited our premier global health information website last month.  As always, we enjoy receiving your stimulating feedback and questions, and I will continue to try and personally answer as many of your inquiries as I possibly can. 

 

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