How much alcohol causes cancer is an unsettling question but it does need to be faced if we want to live long in the land. Happily there is a way out. There are good reasons to believe that natural wines and beers full of probiotics are exceptions to the rule.
I am very excited but also depressed when I read headlines like "Second-Line Treatment of Renal Cell Carcinoma" in prestigious medical journals and publications; the first of course being chemotherapy.
And others in the same series like "How Does the Gut Microbiome Impact Response to Cancer Therapy?" This research is not from alternative healthcare but mainline medicine; this discussion is by two oncologists from prestigious treatment centres.
So why does this make me depressed? Because the assumption is that many of us are going to get cancer anyway; one in six deaths worldwide.
Attack remains the best form of defense; and that means aggressively following a policy of prevention.
Prevention is the overwhelming best form of defense but mostly what we are hearing is about screening and modern forms of chemotherapy.
The first line of treatment should be prevention.
The second line of treatment too should be prevention.
And that means we can no longer be ostriches, burying our heads in the ground and denying that there is a strong causal link between cancer and lifestyle.
However the honest truth according to IARC data is that alcohol accounts for only 4% of all cancers; that might seem pretty low. Yet it accounts for about 17,000 cases of malignant tumours each year in the UK alone; that's a lot of ostriches.
Half of them are they who are heavy drinkers; six or more shots per day.
Even one alcoholic drink a week does increase the risk of breast cancer.
Yet no research has been done on how natural wines and beers affect the prevalence of cancer. They are hard to come by and expensive; unless you decide to become a brewer yourself.
A presentation in 2023 to the International Agency for Research on Cancer concerned the "urgent need to raise global awareness about the direct link between alcohol consumption and the risk of malignant tumours." The work was done in France by Dr Isabella Soerjomataram where the average tippler enjoys 2 bottles of wine per week; about 10 glasses. Overall the French are moderate drinkers.
Risky lifestyle behaviours are additive. Drinkers who are also smokers, eat little food rich in anti-oxidants and do not exercise are at far greater risk. So are the obese and those exposed to environmental pollutants; virtually all of us.
Those who choose not to give up drinking despite the risks could significantly shift the odds in their favour simply by enjoying a lunch like this.
Adding one true whole grain per day would further reduce the risk of breast cancer for example, by nearly 50%. It takes only five minutes to prepare the ingredients for a sourdough loaf made in a bread machine. However acquiring true 100pc real flour is difficult.
Even the best commercial bread would not give the same protection against cancer.
There are five places in the world where ten times as many people live to enjoy full, zestful old age; yet in four of them they are moderate drinkers. Enjoying two or three glasses of wine every day is the norm; the alcohol does not appear to affect them like the rest of the world.
In part it's about their lifestyle; but also the wine they enjoy with their meals is not the typical alcohol most of us drink. It is brewed locally, is not pasteurised nor are any preservatives added.
Natural alcohol as it is being called is hard to find and expensive. For those who seriously enjoy their tipple, are unwilling to give it up yet are concerned about the risk of cancer, becoming a brewer is an option.
In Ikaria, one of the Blue Zone islands in the Mediterranean there are many beekeepers; they brew their own mead.
Most of us flirt with alcohol; I am no exception. For most of my life I have enjoy 2 - 4 beers every day. I rarely drink during the day, do not get drunk but consume too much booze.
That makes me what is called a "functional alcoholic."
Finally after firmly facing the fact that I was a "risky drinker" I decided to start brewing. The first phase of my journey with alcohol was decidedly detrimental to my overall health; yet kept the Big C away either by good fortune or an otherwise healthy lifestyle.
The second part of the journey has been profoundly interesting. First brewing beer but using a commercial, suspect concoction; but finally turning to mead.
Brewing my own beer I found tiresome and expensive. The bottling in particularly unpleasant. And I was unsure what was put into the starter mixture that I was buying. Mead has been entirely more rewarding in every sense but only because I am also a beekeeper.
So I could perhaps call myself a disciple of the apiarists and meaders of Ikaria! The overall lifestyle of those Blue Zone people has consumed me. But all naturally brewed wine and beer is rich in probiotics and entirely different to the commercial alcohol that we are accustomed to.
I have no research to prove it; there are so few consumers of natural wines and beers that it would be extremely difficult to do a study on how much alcohol causes cancer in their lives. But it my profound belief that the mead I brew is actually good for me; in moderation.
Too much alcohol of even the best sort can still destroy a life.
I am no long anxious about the joy of enjoying about two bottles per week. This mead made with mulberries is profoundly interesting; technically it's called a melomel. You will not find it commercially; consider becoming a brewer. I whole-heartedly endorse it.
You could use any kind of berries. I experiment with many; but these are easy to grow and pick.
The "take home" from all this is that alcohol as we all know only too well comes with significant dangers. For those tipplers who really do want to enjoy healthy old age, free of cancer and are willing to ring in some changes to their lifestyle, home brewing is a good option.
How much alcohol causes cancer is a disturbing question. Almost 50 people die every day of the year in the UK alone from a malignant tumour directly caused by their drinking. That's not small beer!
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