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Alcohol use has been linked with cancers of the:
For each of these cancers, the more alcohol you drink, the higher your cancer risk.
Cancers of the mouth, throat, voice box, and esophagus: Alcohol use clearly raises the risk of these cancers. Drinking and smoking together raises the risk of these cancers even more than drinking or smoking alone. This might be because alcohol can help harmful chemicals in tobacco get inside the cells that line the mouth, throat and esophagus. Alcohol may also limit how these cells can repair damage to their DNA caused by the chemicals in tobacco.
Liver cancer: Long-term alcohol use has been linked to an increased risk of liver cancer. Regular, heavy alcohol use can damage the liver, leading to inflammation and scarring. This might raise the risk of liver cancer.
Colon and rectal cancer: Alcohol use has been linked with a higher risk of cancers of the colon and rectum. The evidence for this is generally stronger in men than in women, but studies have found the link in both sexes.
Breast cancer: Even a few drinks a week is linked with an increased risk of breast cancer in women. This risk may be especially high in women who do not get enough folate (a B vitamin) in their diet or through supplements. Alcohol can also raise estrogen levels in the body, which may explain some of the increased risk. Cutting back on alcohol may be an important way for many women to lower their risk of breast cancer.
Ethanol is the type of alcohol found in alcoholic drinks, whether they are beers, wines, liquors (distilled spirits), or other drinks. Alcoholic drinks contain different percentages of ethanol, but in general, a standard size drink of any type — 12 ounces of beer, 5 ounces of wine, or 1.5 ounces of 80-proof liquor — contains about the same amount of ethanol (about half an ounce). Of course, larger or ‘stronger’ drinks can contain more ethanol than this.
Overall, the amount of alcohol someone drinks over time, not the type of alcoholic beverage, seems to be the most important factor in raising cancer risk. Most evidence suggests that it is the ethanol that increases the risk, not other things in the drink.
Exactly how alcohol affects cancer risk isn’t completely understood. In fact, there might be several different ways it can raise risk, and this might depend on the type of cancer.
Alcohol can act as an irritant, especially in the mouth and throat. Cells that are damaged by the alcohol may try to repair themselves, which could lead to DNA changes that can be a step toward cancer.
Bacteria that normally live in the colon and rectum can convert alcohol into large amounts of acetaldehyde, a chemical that has been shown to cause cancer in lab animals.
Alcohol and its byproducts can also damage the liver, leading to inflammation and scarring. As liver cells try to repair the damage, they can end up with mistakes in their DNA, which could lead to cancer.
Alcohol may help other harmful chemicals, such as those in tobacco smoke, enter the cells lining the upper digestive tract more easily. This might explain why the combination of smoking and drinking is much more likely to cause cancers in the mouth or throat than smoking or drinking alone.
In other cases, alcohol may slow the body’s ability to break down and get rid of some harmful chemicals.
Alcohol might affect the body’s ability to absorb some nutrients, such as folate. Folate is a vitamin that cells in the body need to stay healthy. Absorption of nutrients can be even worse in heavy drinkers, who often have low levels of folate. These low levels may play a role in the risk of some cancers, such as breast and colorectal cancer.
Alcohol can raise the levels of estrogen, a hormone important in the growth and development of breast tissue. This could affect a woman’s risk of breast cancer.
Too much alcohol can add extra calories to the diet, which can contribute to weight gain in some people. Being overweight or obese is known to increase the risks of many types of cancer.
Along with these effects, alcohol may contribute to cancer growth in other, unknown ways.
Most people know about the short-term effects of drinking alcohol, such as its effects on mood, concentration, judgment, and coordination. But alcohol can also have longer-term health effects. These can vary from person to person.
For some people, alcohol is addictive. Drinking can become heavier over time, leading to serious health and social problems. Heavy drinkers who suddenly stop drinking can have physical withdrawal symptoms such as tremors, confusion, hallucinations, seizures, and other serious problems over the next few days. In some people these can be life-threatening. This doesn’t mean that heavy drinkers should not stop drinking. It does mean that heavy drinkers should talk with their health care team about the safest way to stop drinking.
Over time, heavy drinking can cause inflammation (hepatitis) and heavy scarring (cirrhosis) in the liver. This can lead to liver failure. Heavy drinking can also damage other organs, such as the pancreas and the brain, and can raise blood pressure. It also increases the risk of heart disease and stroke.
In pregnant women, alcohol use, especially heavy drinking, may lead to birth defects or other problems with the fetus.
On the other hand, low to moderate alcohol use has been linked with a lower risk of heart disease in some people. Low to moderate use is usually defined as 1 or 2 drinks a day for a man or 1 drink a day for a woman. The potential benefit of lowering heart disease risk has to be weighed against the possible health risks for each person.
As part of its guidelines on nutrition and physical activity for cancer prevention, the American Cancer Society recommends that people who drink alcohol limit their intake to no more than 2 drinks per day for men and 1 drink a day for women.
The recommended limit is lower for women because of their smaller body size and because their bodies tend to break down alcohol more slowly. These daily limits do not mean it’s safe to drink larger amounts on fewer days of the week, which can still lead to health, social, and other problems.
Alcohol use has been linked to several types of cancer and other health risks, but this is complicated by the fact that low-to-moderate alcohol intake has been linked with a lower risk of heart disease. Still, lowering the risk of heart disease is not a compelling reason for adults who don’t drink alcohol to start.
There are many ways to reduce heart disease risk, including avoiding smoking, eating a diet low in saturated and trans fats, staying at a healthy weight, staying physically active, and controlling blood pressure and cholesterol.
According to the 2010 US Dietary Guidelines for Americans, some groups of people should not drink alcoholic beverages at all. These include:
Many studies have found a link between alcohol intake and the risk of developing certain cancers. But it is not clear whether alcohol use after treatment might increase the risk of these cancers coming back (recurring). In theory, it’s possible that alcohol use might raise the risk of recurrence. For example, alcohol can increase the levels of estrogens in the body, which might increase the risk for breast cancer recurrence. But there is no strong evidence from studies to support this.
In people who have already been diagnosed with cancer, alcohol intake could also affect the risk of developing a new cancer.
There are some cases during cancer treatment in which alcohol clearly should be avoided. For example, alcohol – even in very small amounts – can irritate mouth sores caused by some cancer treatments, and can even make them worse. Alcohol can also interact with some drugs used during cancer treatment, which might increase the risk of harmful side effects. It’s important to talk with your doctor about this if you are being treated for cancer.
But for people who have completed cancer treatment, the effects of alcohol on cancer recurrence risk are largely unknown. It’s important to discuss this with your doctor. Factors that can be important include:
Our team is made up of doctors and oncology certified nurses with deep knowledge of cancer care as well as journalists, editors, and translators with extensive experience in medical writing.
Along with the American Cancer Society, other sources of patient information and support include:
American Institute for Cancer Research (AICR)
Toll-free number: 1-800-843-8114
Alcoholics Anonymous (AA)
Phone number: 1-212-870-3400
Toll-free number: 1-888-4AL-ANON (1-888-425-2666)
National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence (NCADD)
Toll-free number: 1-800-NCA-CALL (1-800-622-2255)
National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA)
Phone number: 1-301-443-3860
We site: www.niaaa.nih.gov
Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA)
Substance Abuse Treatment Facility Locator
Toll-free number: 1-800-662-HELP (1-800-662-4357)
*Inclusion on this list does not imply endorsement by the American Cancer Society.
American Cancer Society. Cancer Facts & Figures 2016. Atlanta, Ga: American Cancer Society; 2016.
Allen NE, Beral V, Casabonne D, et al. Moderate alcohol intake and cancer incidence in women. J Natl Cancer Inst. 2009;101:296-305.
Cao Y, Willett WC, Rimm EB, Stampfer MJ, Giovannucci EL. Light to moderate intake of alcohol, drinking patterns, and risk of cancer: Results from two prospective US cohort studies. BMJ. 2015 Aug 18;351:h4238.
Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC). Alcohol and Public Health: Frequently Asked Questions. 2016. Accessed at www.cdc.gov/alcohol/faqs.htm on June 24, 2016.
Chen WY, Rosner B, Hankinson SE, Colditz GA, Willett WC. Moderate alcohol consumption during adult life, drinking patterns, and breast cancer risk. JAMA. 2011;306:1884-1890.
International Agency for Research on Cancer. IARC Monographs on the Evaluation of Carcinogenic Risks to Humans. Volume 96: Alcohol Consumption and Ethyl Carbamate. 2010. Accessed at http://monographs.iarc.fr/ENG/Monographs/vol96/mono96.pdf on September 14, 2016.
Kushi LH, Doyle C, McCullough M, et al. American Cancer Society guidelines on nutrition and physical activity for cancer prevention: Reducing the risk of cancer with healthy food choices and physical activity. CA Cancer J Clin. 2012;62:30-67.
Lew JQ, Freedman ND, Leitzmann MF, et al. Alcohol and risk of breast cancer by histologic type and hormone receptor status in postmenopausal women: The NIH-AARP Diet and Health Study. Am J Epidemiol. 2009;170:308-317.
National Cancer Institute. Alcohol and Cancer Risk. 2013. Accessed at www.cancer.gov/about-cancer/causes-prevention/risk/alcohol/alcohol-fact-sheet on April 4, 2017.
Rock CL, Doyle C, Demark-Wahnefried W, et al. Nutrition and physical activity guidelines for cancer survivors. CA Cancer J Clin. 2012;62:243-274.
US Department of Health and Human Services and US Department of Agriculture. 2015 – 2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans. 8th Edition. December 2015. Accessed at http://health.gov/dietaryguidelines/2015/guidelines/ on September 14, 2016.
World Cancer Research Fund International/American Institute for Cancer Research. Continuous Update Project Report: Diet, Nutrition, Physical Activity and Stomach Cancer. 2016. Accessed at wcrf.org/stomach-cancer-2016 on September 14, 2016.
Last Medical Review: February 12, 2017 Last Revised: April 5, 2017
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1. Nelson Algren Literary Awards: $3,500 Short Story Prize (Submission Guidelines)
One of the year’s best short story contests has arrived. It’s the Nelson Algren Literary Awards, hosted by the Chicago Tribune. The prize? $3,500 USD. There is absolutely no entry free. Writers can submit their stories starting November 15th, 2017. (Sadly, it is only open to residents of the United States.) Stories should be 8,000… Keep reading…
2. $450 for Holiday Stories
Cricket Magazine, often referred to as The New Yorker for Children, is seeking submissions of writing on the topic “Home for the Holidays.” They’re asking for historical fiction, nonfiction, poetry, crafts, and recipes about holidays around the world and in the U.S. They pay up to twenty five cents per word. Most short stories they… Keep reading…
3. $200 for Short Stories and Essays
The Masters Reviews bills itself as a “Platform for Emerging Writers.” They publish short stories and narrative non-fiction. One key point: They want writing from writers who are not yet established. That means, “any new and emerging author who has not published a work of fiction or narrative nonfiction of novel length. You must not… Keep reading…
4. 10 Blogs and Magazines that Pay Writers (Up to $200)
As part of our weekly roundup of paid writing opportunities, here are ten publishers that pay writers. A wide variety of topics is coveed, including graphic design, roleplaying games, virtual reality, and travel. We’ve found payment information and submission guidelines for all of these publishers, though keep in mind that payment rates are not set… Keep reading…
5. 99 Magazines & Blogs that Pay Writers for Essays
Dear Writers, Here is a huge list of publishers that pay for personal essays — including essays, photographic essays, memoir, and narrative non-fiction. We’ve researched the payment rates for these publishers, and found links directly to their submission guidelines pages. You won’t find a more comprehensive list anywhere else on the internet. Sincerely, Jacob Jans… Keep reading…
6. 10 Calls for Submissions: Up to $750 for Short Stories
Some of these fiction markets pay up to $150, and some pay more, up to approximately $750. Some of these also accept poetry and non-fiction. They are either open for submissions now or will open soon. Some deadlines are approaching quickly. — S. Kalekar Escape Artists: PodCastle They want quality fantasy fiction, and publish both… Keep reading…
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Background on “Hotel California”
Despite popular belief, the Eagles turned down all the theories. They have confirmed that “Hotel California” actually has nothing to do with Satanism, psychiatric hospitals, or cocaine addictions. The hit song is actually an interesting examination. It focuses on the pitfalls of living within Southern California in the tumultuous 1970s.
The Eagles in 2008
The song is written by Don Felder, Glenn Frey, and Don Henley of the Eagles. The “Hotel California” lyrics meaning focuses on the excessive materialism of California. However, it also hints at the same situation across the nation in the 1970s. Back in 2007, in an interview with the London Daily Mail, Don Henley approached the issue. He disproved the wilder interpretations as mere figments of the overactive public imagination. Instead, it’s all about the “uneasy balance between art and commerce.” The song was actually the Grammy winner for Record of the Year in 1977. “Hotel California” was merely the band’s interpretation of the high life in California. This was full of propaganda with the signature images of the stars on Hollywood Boulevard, for instance. Add the beaches with scantily clad women, and shining lights you could see for hundreds of miles.
The True Meaning
The song is aimed the characteristic greed and hedonism associated with Hollywood during the time period. This includes the excess of drugs, piles of money, and easy women. Moreover, the Eagles admitted they themselves were drowning in these temptations. As evidence from the photographer for the album cover, he has stated that the picture was intended to represent the dramatic loss of innocence and rising growth of corruption.
The real “Hotel California”
Throughout the song, the lyrics entwine a surrealistic viewpoint into a fictional tale of weary travelers checking in for a night at a luxurious hotel in the heart of Los Angeles. Although the hotel draws the travelers in with its inviting and tempting appeals, they soon figure out that it is a nightmarish place they can never leave behind. In this tale, the “Hotel California” is an allegory about the inescapable musical industry within the dark underbelly of the American dream. While there are certainly real hotels with the name, you can’t find Hotel California in real life outside of the iconic Eagles song. It is a great metaphor for the charms of the West Coast and its effects on the unworldly musicians that fall into its glittering trap of fame and fortune without an escape.
“Hotel California” is arguably the Eagles’ most iconic song. The hit tune was a billboard chart-topper; it sold over 16 million copies in the U.S. alone and was on the Billboard Hot 100 chart for 19 weeks, peaking at No. 1. In 1978, the song won a Grammy award for Record of the Year.
Here are five facts that you might not know about The Eagles’ “Hotel California.”
1. Glenn Frey was the mastermind behind the song’s lyrics
The late Glenn Frey penned the lyrics for the hit song along with band members Don Henley and Don Felder.
2. The song is about “excess in America”
While there have been many theories that contemplate what the song represents, the Eagles’ band members have revealed in multiple interviews that the true meaning behind “Hotel California” is a commentary on the hedonism and self-indulgence of America.
“It’s basically a song about the dark underbelly of the American dream and about excess in America, which is something we knew a lot about,” Henley said in a 2002 interview with “60 Minutes.”
In 2005, Henley further explained the meaning of the song to Rolling Stone magazine, which placed “Hotel California” at no. 49 on its list of the 500 greatest songs of all time.
“We were all middle class kids from the Midwest,” Henley said. “‘Hotel California’ was our interpretation of the high life in L.A.”
3. “Hotel California” originally had a different name
According to journalist-turned-director Cameron Crowe, “Hotel California” was almost named something entirely different.
In 2003, Crowe revealed in “Conversations with Don Henley and Glenn Frey,” which was part of the liner notes for the Eagles’ compilation album “The Very Best Of,” that “Hotel California” was originally going to be titled “Mexican Reggae.”
Glenn Frey, Eagles Founding Member, Dies in New York City
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A Look at Some of Glenn Frey’s Top Songs With the Eagles
4. “Hotel California” was declared a song that shaped rock and roll
The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in Cleveland, Ohio, named “Hotel California” as one of the songs that shaped rock and roll.
The Eagles were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1998, and all seven former and present members of the group performed “Hotel California” together on stage.
5. There is a playful nod to the band Steely Dan in the song
The line “They stab it with their steely knives, but they just can’t kill the beast,” is a playful jab to rock band Steely Dan.
Frey revealed in the liner notes of “The Very Best Of” that they alluded to the “Do it Again” rock band in “Hotel California” after Steely Dan made an Eagles reference in their song “Everything You Did.”
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