The Link Between Heavy Drinking And Pancreatic Cancer
The human race continually produces and consumes alcoholic beverages to experience the psychoactive effects that alcohol causes. It seems as though many administrations in several nations, like the United States, do not mind this consumption of alcohol, since the laws regarding it do not prohibit it.
They only restrict sale to minors. This trend has been progressive for roughly ten thousand years and in this period, no other psychoactive drug has received that much acceptance. It begs the question why alcohol has this privilege and yet it still causes severe consequences upon misuse, which is greatly common among consumers.
Before its popularity, alcohol was just ethanol. It depresses your central nervous system and thus causes your body and mind to experience slow functioning and coordination. Upon abusing alcohol, your reaction time to matters slows down too. So do not be surprised that you cannot drive yourself home upon consuming excessive alcohol amounts when out with your friends.
The effects upon your mind and body further cause disruption in your sleeping, multitasking ability, decision making skills, judgment and vision. This explains the behavior of certain drunken individuals in social gatherings and festivals, since alcohol is largely consumed during various celebrations. The numerous and widespread drinking establishments are no exception when it comes to drunken behavior.
As people consume alcohol in this manner, they forget the consequences that show up later on, especially for persons that consume excessive amounts more often than recommended. The safest persons that may never experience the problems of drinking heavily or drinking at all are in nations that prohibit alcohol consumption. They mostly include quite a number of nations in the Middle East.
Other nations following this trend of prohibiting alcohol consumption can find a remedy to many problems in society, including the problems that accompany pancreatic cancer. There seems to be a link between this deadly illness and heavy drinking, and this article will enlighten you on how the both are connected.
The Substance abuse and Mental Health Services Administration refers to heavy drinking as binge drinking that takes place on five or more days in one particular month. Heavy drinking is basically the consumption of more alcohol than your body can metabolize.
The excessive amounts build up in your blood and thus end up in various body parts, where they cause changes to the normal body functions as well as chemistry. In the long run, heavy consumption of alcohol becomes detrimental to your health. Luckily, it is a preventable death cause.
Currently, there are millions of heavy drinkers across, America. Some are even pregnant women and also quite a number get involved in violent crime. The first risk that is related to heavy drinking is the development of alcohol use disorder. If your drinking trends continue and also increase, you may end up in alcoholism.
Statistics of Heavy Drinking
Heavy drinking is mostly in the form of binge drinking and it happens so often in the United States. The following facts can help you understand how deep the problem is by depicting the numbers involved.
- Heavy drinking is a pattern of excessive alcohol consumption that is repeated severally in a month.
- It commonly occurs among young people that are age eighteen and thirty-four years. It is more frequent among people above sixty-five years.
- It is twice more in men than women
- Binge drinking episodes may happen to about three-quarters of adults, mostly above 26 years.
- Most heavy consumers of alcohol have incomes of about seventy-five thousand dollars.
Persons Prohibited To Use Alcohol
Not everybody is allowed to consume alcohol. For some people, even the normal recommended amount is detrimental to them. They include the following:
- Persons operating machinery or have plan to drive a car
- Pregnant women, or those planning to get pregnant
- Persons under medication
- People with medical conditions
Reasons for Heavy Drinking
Heavy drinking causes you blood alcohol percentage to rise above 0.08 percent, which is very risky. It begs the questions; why engage in such high alcohol consumption habits now and then? Doesn’t the hangover symptoms that may even be life threatening discourage you from doing it again?
People seem to have various reasons for heavy drinking regardless of the consequences.
They include the following;
- It is fun- many heavy drinkers take high amounts of alcohol because it is fun to relax and have a moment of pleasure. It allows them to relieve their stresses as well as daily pressures related to work, family or school. Parties without alcohol are disappointing to such persons.
- To gain social confidence- people like introverts do not do so well in huge crowds of people and socializing is hard. Alcohol helps them loosen up and become at ease. They continue consuming more amounts, as it makes them feel desirable and part of a group.
- For some, alcohol gives them the sense of dominance especially in situations where they feel helpless.
- Forgetting problems also makes people consume the high alcohol amounts, since it elevates their mood and their minds get preoccupied with other matters aside from their issues.
- Peer pressure- this mostly affects the school kids, who want to fit in be being ’cool, popular or desirable.’
- Rebellion- some kids just want to rebel against their parents, especially in cases where the relationship between the two is on the rocks. Such persons, unfortunately, feel good showing up drunken at home, just to piss off their parent.
Signs of Heavy Drinking
According to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, there are various signs of alcohol use disorders, which arise due to abuse of alcohol in high amounts and in repeated cycles. They include the following;
- The often consumption of larger amounts of alcohol especially for long periods.
- The inability to stop or even control your consumption when you are out with friends.
- You tend to experience some issues with your body as you recover from heavy alcohol consumption.
- You may experience some cravings now and then, especially when around alcohol establishments, social gatherings or parties.
- The recurrent problems do not seem to signal that you do have a drinking problem.
- You see no problem in operating machinery, driving or performing surgery while under the influence.
- You seem to consume more and more amounts all the time because tolerance is building up.
Heavy Drinking Effects
To begin with, heavy alcohol consumption causes profound harm and economic costs. The binge drinking can result to acute intoxication or alcohol poisoning, which often leads to death. What’s more it can lead to the depression of the gag reflex. If this happens, a person that has passed out from high alcohol consumption can chock from their own vomit.
Alcohol impairs almost everything in your body. Therefore, you are likely to have poor coordination, executive functioning and judgment. Due to these alcohol effects on your actions, you risk getting serious injuries from vehicle accidents, suffocation, drowning and other types of accidents, if you survive.
Such drinking further impairs the healing ability of your body after this occurrence. If you are experiencing depression or deeper problems, you are also likely to harm yourself, including through suicide.
Heavy drinking takes a toll on your internal organs. In the heart, it causes irregular heartbeat, high blood pressure and heart failure leading to sudden death. In the kidneys, it causes the production of excess urine that puts you at risk of dehydration as well as low sodium and potassium levels.
The entering of saliva and vomit into the lungs if alcohol inhibits your gag reflex can cause lung infection of inflammation. In the pancreas, heavy drinking leads to hypoglycemia. This is the onset of dangerously low blood sugar levels. You may also become sexually active and may acquire sexually transmitted diseases if you engage in unprotected sex.
If heavy drinking lasts for long-term, you are likely to develop worse problems. You risk developing various cancers, which are definitely incurable if detected late. You may also suffer from liver disease, including cirrhosis and liver inflammation.
The heart may get weak due to increased blood pressure now and then and you may experience heart attack, which is quite life threatening. Additionally, your immune and blood system get affected, causing suppressed immune system, low platelets and anemia.
Heavy drinking interferes with calcium absorption and bone formation, leading to osteoporosis. What’s more, it can affect your brain permanently, by causing impaired coordination and balance. You could develop mental issues like psychosis, anxiety and depression. The interference of nutrients and vitamin absorption in the gut causes malnutrition.
The human body is a combination of various parts that are meant to perform various functions that are delicate and thus matter in your survival. Among them is the pancreas, which is a gland that is situated in your abdominal area, especially between the spine and stomach.
As it produces hormones like glucagon and insulin, as well as enzymes, the pancreas effectively controls your levels of blood-sugar and performs some digestion processes. This organ comprises of cells, like many other organs in your body.
If your body is functioning properly, the cells all around your body parts often divide so as to form new cells for use. As soon as cells become old, they normally die and are replaced by new cells. On the onset of an abnormality in this process, you may suffer from pancreatic cancer.
Pancreatic cancer is whereby abnormal cells begin to grow in the pancreas and uncontrollably divide, thus forming a tumor. This abnormality involves the formation of new cells when your body is not in need of them or the lack of elimination of the old cells. The excessive cells have nowhere to go, and thus create a mass tissue that the medical community refers to as a tumor.
There two types of tumors that can form in your pancreas: the benign, which is abnormal but does not invade your other body parts and malignant, which is the cancer that uncontrollably grows and thus has the ability to spread to other organs and tissues.
Pancreatic cancer is known to spread to lungs, lymph nodes, liver, bones and adnominal wall. Despite spreading like to these different organs, this cancer still maintains the name pancreatic cancer because its origin is the pancreas.
Types of Pancreatic Cancer
The pancreatic tumors mentioned above are further classified into two based on the type of cell that began the problem: the neuroendocrine or endocrine and exocrine tumors. These two behave differently and also have varying response to diverse treatments.
The exocrine tumors form about ninety-four percent of the pancreatic cancers, the most common being the adenocarcinoma. On the other hand, neuroendocrine or islet cell tumors form the remaining six percent. Compared to the exocrine, neuroendocrine tumors grow slower.
Causes of Pancreatic Cancer
Doctors admit that there is still no clear cause for most pancreatic cancers. However, they are sort of sure that some factors do increase the risk of developing this problem. It does not entirely mean that having these factors will definitely cause the cancer. What’s more, this cancer is known to be more common among the elder persons, especially those around seventy-five years.
A DNA change is one factor that could cause cancer. You can inherit it from your parents or it can as well develop over time. The latter takes place if you get exposed to harmful substances or can as well happen randomly.
Therefore, about five to ten percent of the pancreatic cancers are hereditary. You are at risk of acquiring pancreatic cancer if more than two first-degree relatives have acquired it, especially before hitting fifty years. It may also occur if you have an inherited genetic syndrome that associates to pancreatic cancer.
The majority of these cancers happen randomly or due to the following factors, although it is not a must:
- Hereditary or chronic pancreatitis
- Consumption of diets that are high in processed or red meats
- Race, mostly Ashkenazi Jew or African-American
- Long-standing diabetes
- Age, especially above sixty years
- Gender, male mostly
Signs and Symptoms
The symptoms of pancreatic cancer are mostly unexplainable or vague. They include;
- Loss of appetite
- Weight loss
- Recent-onset of diabetes
- Abdominal or back pain
- Changes in stool
- In advanced pancreatic cancer stages, you will have abdomen fluid and blood clots.
How Heavy Drinking is Linked to Pancreatic Cancer
Generally across the globe, about four percent of cancer deaths are connected to alcohol consumption. This psychoactive substance has been linked to various types of cancers like breast, liver, mouth, larynx, rectum, colon, pharynx and esophagus.
So what makes the medical community link this same alcohol to pancreatic cancer?
Annually in the United States, about forty-three thousand people get diagnosed with pancreatic cancer and more than thirty-seven thousand end up dead. This is mostly due to the diagnosis at advanced stage since early detection is almost impossible.
According to researchers, there is no direct link between heavy drinking and alcohol. However, they conducted a long-term study that concluded that tossing back more than three shots of hard liquor on daily basis increases the risks of dying from pancreatic cancer.
In the beginning of 1982, the American Cancer Society conducted this study on about one million people, estimated to be about thirty years and older. Four hundred thousand of these persons were non-smokers, forty-six percent of males and sixty-three percent of females were non-drinkers.
Every year, participants filled up questionnaires, whereby they reported how many drinks they took each day; although no beverage alcohol quantities were mentioned. The results were as follows;
- People consuming more than three alcohol beverages daily increased their risks of dying of pancreatic cancer as compared to non-drinkers.
- Compared to beer and wine, liquor seemed to be more strongly linked to pancreatic deaths.
From the results, it was also discovered that the risk of dying from cancer was thirty-six percent higher in non-smoking participants that engaged in heavy drinking. For the smokers, heavy drinking only increased this risk by sixteen percent. What’s more, about six thousand, eight hundred and forty-seven study subjects died of pancreatic cancer.
According to their suspicions, scientists believe that the culprit linking pancreatic cancer to heavy drinking is pancreatitis, which is the inflammation of the pancreas. Pancreatitis mostly occurs due to long-term heavy drinking. Actually, statistics show that about seven to ten cases, which is approximately seventy percent, of the chronic pancreatitis result from this.
Damage Of The Pancreas By Alcohol
There are multiple millions of adults in the United States that consume alcohol heavily. This alcohol has to be metabolized in the pancreas. Some of the early alcohol metabolites may be toxic to your cells since they may cause an alteration of the pathways, like inflammation, which are relevant to cancer.
Already, scientists have proven that heavy drinking damages the pancreas, by causing pancreas inflammation better known as pancreatitis. This problem has characteristics like vomiting and abdominal pain that is quite severe. Chronic pancreatitis, then, seems to be highly connected to increasing the risk of acquiring pancreatic cancer.
Pancreatic Cancer Diagnosis and Treatment
The diagnosis and treatment of pancreatic cancer is not easy at all. The problem is hard to trace due to the location of this organ, which is deep in the abdomen. So even if the tumor is forming, detecting it in a physical exam may be impossible. What’s more, its symptoms as mentioned above are not that obvious and mostly develop as time goes by.
There is no established standard test that can diagnose pancreatic cancer. Therefore, doctors have to carry out several tests to make a conclusion, thus making the diagnosis complicated. For them to clearly see the pancreatic tumor, doctors prefer to use imaging studies.
They include magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), computed tomography (CT) and endoscopic ultrasound (EUS). It these tests verify the presence of a tumor, doctors usually extract a tumor tissue to act as sample to help in figuring out the exact diagnosis.
Upon confirmation that you do suffer from pancreatic cancer, you should begin treatment, which highly depends on your overall health and the stage of this illness. You may take part in clinical trials, which are studies regarding new treatments, or just standard approved treatments, which include radiation, surgery and chemotherapy. The action network of pancreatic cancer may recommend you take clinical trials, especially at diagnosis.
Treatment further becomes complicated due to various issues. First, many patients are not eligible for surgery, despite that it has been the best chance of beating or controlling pancreatic cancer for a long while now. This is because diagnosis of the disease takes place in its later stages and thus past the surgery stage.
Second, a dense tissue layer known as stroma surrounds the pancreatic tumors. As a result, treatment experiences difficulty in reaching the tumor.
The only way to escape pancreatic cancers as well as other alcohol related issues is abstaining from alcohol consumption. This approach is the safest way to keep your body healthy and away from the alcohol related problems.
If you like alcohol too much to give it up, then you should at least take the recommended amounts for safe drinking. So limit your consumption by taking one drink a day if you are a female and just two for males. This same recommendation is advised by the doctors involved in the research study mentioned earlier. They dealt with facts and so you should adhere to this advice for a better life.
In conclusion, alcohol is simply destructive to the human race in various ways and it is saddening that the world hardly recognizes this fact. According to the research conducted on a million participants, there seems to be a link between heavy drinking and pancreatic cancer.
Even though the link is not direct, but rather via pancreas inflammation, the fact that more than six thousand participants of the study died of pancreatic cancer is evidence enough that there exists a link. Now, it is up to you to make that life choice.
Will you choose life over alcohol pleasures, or vice versa?