risks of alcohol

  1. Moderate alcohol can cause skin cancer

    Light booze habit can boost cancer risk

    It's a common habit -- one shared by hundreds of millions of people around the world, and most never stop to think twice about it.

    It's a light to moderate drinking habit.

    Most people believe a drink or even two a day couldn't possibly be a bad habit, and even some doctors will tell you it's OK.

    But any amount of alcohol comes with risk, and new research shows that even a very light booze habit -- a single drink per night, and no more -- can increase your risk of the deadliest form of skin cancer.

    You may not realize it, but when you sip that drink your body coverts the ethanol in your booze into acetaldehyde in your body. Acetaldehyde, in turn, makes your skin more sensitive and more susceptible to damage from UV light, according to the study in the British Journal of Dermatology.

    As a result, a single drink a night can increase your risk of skin cancer by a fifth -- and your risk climbs with every drink after that.

    Moderate drinking, two or three beers per night, for example, can increase your risk of melanoma -- the less common, but far more deadly form of the disease -- by 55 percent, according to the analysis of 16 studies.

    While it may be possible that some of the damage comes from people drinking while out under the sun, I don't think it explains all the risk -- especially when you consider that booze is already known to cause at least seven other types of cancer, including oral cancers, colorectal cancers, liver cancer and breast cancer.

    One study I told you about last year found that booze -- even moderate booze -- is that main reason behind at least 15 percent of all breast cancer deaths.

    When you consider that even a moderate drinking habit can increase the risk of everything from liver injury to brain diseases (including dementia) it's clear that the only completely safe amount of alcohol is none at all.

    That said, I know many people are going to drink anyway -- so with that in mind, set some limits. Don't drink daily. Don't even drink weekly if you can help it.

    Instead, limit yourself to a drink or two on special occasions such as holidays and celebrations.

    When you have it less, you'll enjoy it more.

  2. Moderate drinking can speed cognitive decline

    How the 'moderate' drinking myth could age your brain fast

    Two drinks a night. That's the very definition of a moderate drinking habit, right?

    But before you reach for that second glass, there's a new study you need to see -- one that shows how a so-called moderate drinking habit can actually age your brain faster, speeding the onset of cognitive decline.

    Start a two-a-night habit in middle age, and by the time you reach your senior years you could suffer the equivalent of an extra six years of cognitive decline, according to the study.

    And the damage doesn't end there.

    That second drink could also lead to a decline in executive function -- including your ability to reason -- equal to about 1.5 years of aging. Regular drinkers even suffer from declines in everything from math skills to verbal fluency, according to the study.

    Put it all together, and that means a moderate drinking habit could land you in the express lane for dementia and even Alzheimer's disease.

    Women who have two drinks a night are also more likely to suffer from cognitive problems, according to the study, but the link isn't as clear as it is in men. And the study found no risk for people who have one drink a night.

    But don't push your luck.

    I don't think there's any such thing as a safe nightly drinking habit, because even a little booze on a regular basis can increase the risk of cancer (especially breast cancer in women).

    And for some people, a light or moderate drinking habit can slowly turn into addiction and alcoholism -- leading to everything from shattered lives to chronic disease, including diseases of the liver.

    I recommend abstaining, but I recognize that's not realistic for many people. The next best thing is to limit your drinking to holidays and special occasions, and never go beyond a drink or two.

  3. Aging and moderate drinking

    The patients most commonly sent to the ER because of booze-related problems aren't college kids. They're middle-aged folks and even seniors.
  4. Even a moderate drinking habit can be deadly

    People who drink have a higher risk of cancer -- and that includes so-called moderate drinkers.

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