Post last updated April 29, 2016\n\u00a0\nHeavy drinking can take a significant toll on your body \u2014 and greatly impact the health of your liver.\nWhile social drinking is commonplace, heavy and frequent use of alcohol is linked to a host of serious ailments, including cancers. Those who drink heavily are at a higher risk for:\n\nLiver cancer\nMouth cancer\nThroat cancer\nLarynx (voice box) cancer\nEsophagus cancer\nBreast cancer\nColon cancer\nRectal cancer\n\nHow Alcohol Affects the Liver\nAlcohol has a variety of effects on the liver that range from causing acute (quick onset) inflammation of the liver (hepatitis) to fatty (steato) liver disease.\nFatty liver may be reversible at an early stage when alcohol drinking is stopped, but eventually, it develops into hepatitis.\nA very severe bout of alcoholic hepatitis can quickly lead to liver failure. Steatohepatitis, a form of liver disease, can lead to progressive long-term liver toxicity and permanent damage in the form of cirrhosis \u2014 the late stage of serious liver disease. These long-term liver toxicities increase the risk of liver cancer.\nHow Alcohol Increases Your Risk of Liver and Other Cancers\nChronic inflammation can be a risk factor for cancer, but it is still unclear why.\nOne theory suggests that as cancer begins, it sends off signals that lead to inflammatory (immune) cells infiltrating the tumor. These immune cells may then recruit new blood vessels to nourish the budding tumors. Or perhaps they lay down a covering around the tumor that protects the tumor from destruction by other immune cells or cancer treatments.\nSome data shows that exercise, a balanced diet, and daily aspirin use may reduce inflammation. These practices may lead to a lower risk of certain new or recurrent cancers. Always speak with your health care provider before starting any new diet or exercise plans or beginning daily aspirin use.\nIn addition, alcohol negatively affects the metabolism of nutrients that might help reduce cancer. Others suggest that as the body breaks down alcohol, a toxic chemical is produced which can directly affect normal cells by damaging DNA. This may lead to cancer.\nHow Much Alcohol Is Too Much?\nIf you\u2019re drinking too much at one time, drinking too often, or both, you may be consuming too much alcohol. \u201cHeavy\u201d or \u201cat-risk\u201d drinking for healthy men generally is considered four drinks in any day or 14 drinks in a week. Women are identified as \u201cheavy drinkers\u201d or \u201cat-risk\u201d if they consume three drinks per day or seven per week.\nWhen it comes to liver toxicity, there\u2019s no proven safe amount of alcohol.\u00a0The side effects of alcohol occur in patients who consume significant amounts of alcohol daily or who only binge on particular days.\nBinge Drinking Complications\nAside from its effects on the liver, excessive alcohol use can lead to a wide variety of other health and societal problems. The Centers for Disease Control determined that binge drinking is the most common pattern of excessive alcohol use. It is associated with many issues including, but not limited to:\n\nInjury\nAlcohol poisoning, including death\nHeart and blood problems\nBirth defects\nPhysical and sexual violence\n\nAlways discuss your use of alcohol with your physician and loved ones. If you think you or someone you care about is drinking too much, ask for help.