Could a Dry January Help Your Cancer Treatment?

The “Dry January” concept has been gaining more attention in recent years as the ongoing pandemic brings health to the forefront. Abstaining from alcohol for 31 days can prove to be insightful. Dry January is an opportunity to evaluate how alcohol impacts your health and well-being. It can be especially supportive of improved health for those at high risk of developing cancer or already undergoing cancer treatment.

Let’s break down how participating in Dry January can help prevent cancer and improve treatment outcomes:

Removing Known Carcinogens from Your Intake

Alcohol contains ethanol, which breaks down into a known carcinogen called acetaldehyde. Acetaldehyde can lead to irreversible DNA damage. In addition, cancers strongly linked to acetaldehyde affect the bowel, liver, breast, esophagus, pharynx, mouth and larynx.

Improved Nutrient Absorption

Vitamins like A, B, C, D, E, K and folate are essential nutrients that help protect your body from developing cancer. Alcohol impacts how your pancreas secretes digestive enzymes, effectively inhibiting your body’s breakdown of essential nutrients. And when deprived of these critical nutrients, your body becomes more susceptible to cancer.

Supporting Your Healthy Weight

Alcohol consumption can lead to weight gain for many reasons, starting with the way it stops your body from burning fat. Typically, your body burns glucose from carbohydrates or fat lipids as a fuel source. But when you consume alcohol, the body burns the alcohol first and uses it as the primary energy source. This leaves excess lipids and glucose.

Obesity has a strong association with cancer. Being overweight can lead to chronic inflammation, affecting hormonal levels and normal body function. There are at least 13 cancers that have a clear link to obesity.

Positive Hormonal Changes

Alcohol impairs normal body functions, impacting the way that glands release hormones. When your hormone system is disrupted, it can lead to blood pressure fluctuations and hormone development. For women, alcohol interferes with how the body metabolizes estrogen. With an increase in estrogen levels, women become at higher risk of breast cancer.

Doing Dry January Right

Giving up alcohol for January can have lasting effects, particularly if it leads to minimal or moderate alcohol consumption in the following months. Positive changes you may see immediately are fewer food cravings and a clearer mind for better decision-making. In addition, because the liver can repair itself, abstaining from alcohol allows the liver to heal. You’ll also likely have more energy, which means more time for meaningful activities.

If you’re currently undergoing cancer treatment, alcohol may be interacting with the medicines you’ve been taking. While it may seem safe, remember that any level of alcohol consumption may impact normal body function. So, take Dry January as the perfect opportunity to level up your self-care by doing even more to ensure you take every positive step to support your best health and best treatment outcomes.

For more advice on alcohol and cancer prevention, Contact Tampa Bay Radiation Oncology. More than a thousand men and women diagnosed with cancer each year turn to our trusted team of cancer specialists. We encourage you to call us, ask us a question, or consult with us to get a second opinion so you, too, can experience the difference.