Shocker: Alcohol raises skin cancer by as much as 55 pct

Written by PTI | London | Updated: Jan 30 2014, 03:15am hrs
Drinking too much alcohol regularly can raise the risk of developing the deadliest form of skin cancer by 55 per cent, a new study has warned.

Researchers found that regular alcohol consumption can set off a chain of reactions in the body that makes the skin more vulnerable to cancer.

Ethanol is converted to acetaldehyde soon after ingestion and this compound may render the skin more sensitive to harmful UV light, they said.

According to the study published in the British Journal of Dermatology, consuming an alcoholic drink or more a day increases skin cancer risk by a fifth.

Researchers looked at 16 different studies involving thousands of participants, and found that risk increased proportionately with alcohol intake.

Those who drank 50g of ethanol daily (the equivalent of a few strong beers) were up to 55 per cent more likely to develop the deadliest form of skin cancer called melanoma compared with non or occasional drinkers, 'BBC News' reported.

"We know that in the presence of UV radiation, drinking alcohol can alter the body's immunocompetence, the ability to produce a normal immune response," said Dr Eva Negri, one of the study authors who is from the University of Milan.

"This can lead to far greater cellular damage and subsequently cause skin cancers to form," Negri said.

"This study aimed to quantify the extent to which the melanoma risk is increased with alcohol intake, and we hope that armed with this knowledge people can better protect themselves in the sun," Negri said.

However, the study authors admitted that other forces may also be to blame for the increased skin cancer risk observed in drinkers.

Drinkers may lounge in the sun without enough protective clothing or suncream, they said.