Drinking alcohol and cervical cancer risk are not linked. Not even drinking often and in large amounts are risk factors for developing cervical cancer.
Based on their analyses of the research evidence, that is the conclusion of, among many others, the
I. Risk Factors
- American Cancer Society.
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
- National Cancer Institute.
- UK’s National Health Service.
- Canadian Cancer Society.
- Cancer Council Australia.
- World Health Organization (WHO).
Cervical cancer is the fifth most common cancer in women in the world. About 471,000 new cases occur each year. A woman dies of cervical cancer about every two minutes.
I. Risk Factors for Cervical Cancer
Human papillomavirus infection (HPV). The most important risk factor for developing cancer of the cervix is HPV infection. Most people are infected by HPV. But the bodies of most of those who are infected destroy the virus. Researchers think that women must be infected by HPV before they get cervical cancer.
Family history of cervical cancer. The risk of cervical cancer is two to three times higher if a mother or sister had the disease.
Giving birth before age 17. Women who give birth before the age of 17 are almost twice as likely to develop cervical cancer. That’s compared with women who are age 25 years or older before giving birth.
Smoking. Women who smoke are about twice as likely to develop cervical cancer as those who don’t smoke.
These Also Increase Risk
Visit Alcohol and Total Death Risk among Women. (Good news!)
Number of sexual partners. Women who have sex with more partners (male or female) are more likely to develop cervical cancer.
HIV infection. Women who are infected with HIV are more likely to develop cervical cancer.
Chlamydia infection. Infection with Chlamydia, a common bacterium spread by sexual contact, increases the risk of cancer of the cervix.
Birth control pills. The risk of developing cervical cancer increases the longer a woman takes birth control pills. However, it decreases after the pills are no longer taken.
Having three or more births. Women who have have given birth to three or more children have an increased risk of developing cervical cancer.
Poverty. Living in poverty increases the risk of cervical cancer.
Diet. Eating low quantities of fruits and vegetables increases the risk of cervical cancer.
Exposure to DES before birth. DES is a drug that pregnat women sometimes took between 1940 and 1971 to prevent miscarriage. Women whose mothers took DES when pregnant have a higher risk of cervical cancer.
Age. The risk of cervical cancer increases up to about the age of 40. Then it remains fairly steady.
These Reduce Risk
Also visit Drinking Alcohol and Gynecological Cancers.
Condom and diaphram use. The consistent use of a condom or diaphram every time a woman has sex reduces her risk of cervical cancer.
Pap test. Women who have a regular Pap test are less likely to develop cervical cancer. If pre-cancerous cells are discovered early, the patient can be treated before they turn into cancer.
IUD use. The risk of cervical cancer is reduced for a woman who has ever used an IUD. That’s true even for use less than one year. In addition, it remains low after use stops.
II. Symptoms of Cervical Cancer
The most common symptoms of cervical cancer are these.
- Vaginal bleeding between periods.
- Menstrual bleeding that is longer or heavier than usual.
- Bleeding after intercourse.
- Vaginal bleeding after menopause.
- Pain during intercourse.
- Unusual vaginal discharge.
- Excessive tiredness.
- Leg swelling or pain.
- Low back pain.
Having one or more of these symptoms does not mean that a woman has cervical cancer. However, she should always check with a doctor. Early detection of cancer is very important. Better safe than sorry.
III. Resources: Alcohol and Cervical Cancer Risk
Bellinir, K. Cancer Sourcebook for Women. Detroit: Omni, 2018.
Dizon, D., et al. 100 Questions & Answers about Cervical Cancer. Sudbury, MA: Jones & Bartlett, 2009.
Lunnen, M. The Essential Guide to Cervical Cancer. Peterborough: Need-2-Know, 2018.
McCormick, C., et al. Patients’ Guide to Cervical Cancer. Sudbury, MA: Jones & Bartlett, 2011.
Markovic, N. What Every Woman Should Know about Cervical Cancer. NY: Springer, 2018.
Smith, J. and Del Priore, G. Women’s Cancers. Pathways to Healing. London: Imperial, 2016.