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The more you booze it up, the greater your risk
By Christa Sgobba
Drink too much and your skin might pay the price. Imbibing might raise your chances of developing non-melanoma skin cancer, a new review concludes.
After crunching the numbers from 13 studies that included over 95,000 cases of non-melanoma skin cancers—including basal cell carcinoma and cutaneous squamous cell carcinoma—the researchers discovered that the more alcohol people drank, the greater their chances of getting diagnosed with the skin cancer.
In fact, for every 10-gram increase in alcohol intake per day—about three-quarters of a standard drink—the risk for basal cell carcinoma increased by 7 percent, and the risk for squamous cell carcinoma rose by 11 percent.
Non-melanoma skin cancers are the most common types of cancer diagnosed. Unlike melanoma, they rarely spread to other parts of the body, but they can be disfiguring, especially since they often occur on sun-exposed areas like your face or neck.
So how is alcohol upping your risk? Researchers aren’t exactly sure, but it’s possible that acetaldehyde—a compound produced when alcohol is broken down—can interfere with your DNA’s repair, leading to the growth of cancer cells. Alcohol can also suppress your immune system, which can play a role, too.
If you’re worried about your cancer risk, it doesn’t hurt to cut down your drinking—the recommended max is two drinks a day for guys, anyway.
But you need to be focusing on sun protection strategies, too. That means wearing sunscreen with SPF 30 daily and wearing UV-blocking sunglasses.
And check out your skin once a month for anything new, or for spots that have changed in shape, size, or color. Basal cell carcinomas generally look like pink, shiny bumps, while squamous cell carcinoma often mimics a pimple that doesn’t go away.
Originally published on menshealth.com