Drinking alcohol can cause damage to cells in the body and stop them from repairing (Composite: Mark Hall / NationalWorld)

Alcohol and cancer: drinking alcohol increases risk of seven types of cancer - including bowel and breast

Drinking alcohol can cause damage to cells in the body and stop them from repairing

One in two people will develop some form of cancer in their lifetime and alcohol is known to increase the risk.

Drinking alcohol does not necessarily mean that you will get cancer, but it does put you at an increased risk compared to those who are teetotal, even if you only drink a small amount.

Alcohol use, along with smoking and excess body weight, is one of the most preventable risk factors for cancer - the more you cut down on your consumption, the more you can lower your risk.

Research has found that alcohol can cause seven different types of cancer, including two of the most common forms of the disease - breast and bowel.

When alcohol is consumed our bodies turn it into a chemical called acetaldehyde which can cause damage to cells and stop them from repairing.

It can also make cells in the mouth and throat more likely to absorb harmful chemicals, which in turn makes it easier for cancer-causing substances to get into the cell, according to Cancer Research UK.

Additionally, alcohol can increase the levels of some hormones in the body, such as oestrogen and insulin, which can result in cells dividing more often, raising the risk that cancer cells will develop.

Around one in 25 newly diagnosed cancer cases in the last year were associated with drinking alcohol, according to a global study published in The Lancet Oncology, while a previous study from the University of Oxford found that all types of alcohol can significantly increase the risk of seven types of cancer.

New guidance, published by Scottish Health Action on Alcohol Problems (SHAAP), is now calling on medics to highlight the risks of cancer from drinking alcohol to patients to help prevent further cases.

Listed are the seven types of cancer that can be caused by drinking alcohol, and the common symptoms to look for.

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