April is Alcohol Awareness Month
Each April, we mark Alcohol Awareness Month to raise awareness of one of the most deadly health problems in the US, Alcohol Use Disorder (AUD).
Alcohol is the most frequently used and abused substance in the U.S. According to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, more than 50% of women and nearly 60% of men report drinking alcohol in the past year. Over one-quarter of those 18 or older reported binge drinking in the past month. Children, teens, and adults are at risk for Alcohol Use Disorder, or AUD. But treatment is available and recovery is possible.
What is Binge Drinking?
The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA) defines binge drinking as a pattern of drinking that brings BAC levels to 0.08 g/dL or higher. This typically occurs after a woman consumes 4 drinks or a man consumes 5 drinks—in about 2 hours.
How Does Alcohol Affect Your Body?
Alcohol can affect the normal functions of the cells in your body, causing them to grow out of control into a cancer tumor. Drinking alcohol raises your risk of getting at least six different types of cancer—mouth and throat, voice box (larynx), esophagus, colon and rectum, liver, and breast in women.
The risk of cancer increases with the number of drinks consumed, and even one drink a day increases the risk of developing some cancers. The Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommend that if you drink alcohol at all, drink in moderation (up to 1 drink a day for women or 2 drinks a day for men). Some people shouldn’t drink alcohol at all, including people younger than age 21, women who are or might be pregnant, and people on certain medications.
Although consuming even one drink a day increases your cancer risk, binge drinking is particularly risky. Binge drinking is consuming four drinks or more for women and five drinks or more for men on a single occasion. One in six U.S. adults binge drinks about four times a month, consuming about seven drinks per binge. Binge drinking puts people at risk for many short- and long-term outcomes in addition to cancer, such as injuries, violence, and stroke.
All types of alcoholic drinks, including red and white wine, beer, cocktails, and liquor, are linked with cancer.
Some people may not realize how much alcohol they are drinking. So, what is “a drink”? A standard drink is equal to 14 grams (0.6 ounces) of pure alcohol. That is:
- 12 ounces of beer (5% alcohol content).
- 8 ounces of malt liquor (7% alcohol content).
- 5 ounces of wine (12% alcohol content).
- 1.5 ounces or a “shot” of 80-proof (40% alcohol content) distilled spirits or liquor (such as gin, rum, vodka, whiskey).
Rethink your drink. Reducing your alcohol use can lower your risk for cancer.
You can find this and other information at CDC.gov.