The Minority/ Black Health Blog  

Monday, March 20, 2017

The Danger of Drinking Alcohol While Your Skin is Exposed to the Sun -- Many Blacks Still in Denial

African American woman drinking alcohol outside

Most skin cancers are caused by direct exposure to the UV rays in sunlight, according to the American Cancer Society. Ultraviolet (UV) radiation from the sun can damage DNA in the cells in the body, which in turn may lead to cancer. But there is something else that can also increase skin cancer risk that many African Americans are in denial about. What is it?
Both cancerous and deadly

A recent study showed that drinking alcoholic beverages can increase the risk for the deadly skin cancer, melanoma, by up to 55 percent if you drink on a regular basis. Here are the facts:
  • The risk increases by up to 55 percent if you drink regularly
  • The risk increases by 20 percent if you have just one drink a day
  • The risk increases significantly more if you drink AND expose yourself to the sun's UV rays
The Department of Health and Human Services classifies alcohol as a known human carcinogen because it contributes to about 3 percent of cancer deaths in the U.S. Alcoholic drinks contain ethanol, which metabolizes in your body and turns into a compound called acetaldehyde. It's the acetaldehyde that increases the skin’s sensitivity to UV rays, which in turn increases the risk of cell damage and cancer.

What about wine?

Wine could be worse! The research shows that white wine, in particular, may contain higher levels of acetaldehyde than red wine and other alcoholic drinks.

The solution

Don't drink alcohol if you are going to be spending time in the sun. Always apply plenty of sun screen, at least 30 minutes before you hit the beach. Just as drinking and driving don't mix, drinking and sunning is also a bad combination.

For more details about the study, visit www.mskcc.org/blog/white-wine-and-melanoma-does-drinking-alcohol-increase-your-cancer-risk
DISCLAIMER: The content or opinions expressed on this web site are not to be interpreted as medical advice. Please consult with your doctor or medical practitioner before utilizing any suggestions on this web site.
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