World Brain Tumor Day: Alcohol consumption and smoking can increase the risk of brain tumor!

World Brain Tumor Day: We know excessive alcohol consumption and smoking poses many risks but can they lead to something as dangerous as brain tumors? Let’s hear from an expert to understand the link between alcohol, smoking and brain tumors.
A woman with a wine glass
Avoid alcohol during ovulation. Image courtesy: Adobe Stock
Manasvi Jain Published: 8 Jun 2023, 04:30 pm IST
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When it comes to our health, the choices we make regarding alcohol consumption and smoking play a significant role. Excessive alcohol consumption and smoking have long been recognized as detrimental to various aspects of our well-being. In recent years, scientific studies have shed light on their potential association with an increased risk of brain tumors. On the account of World Brain Tumor Day, let’s understand the evidence surrounding the link to excessive alcohol consumption and smoking to increased risk of brain tumors.

Understanding brain tumors

Brain tumors are abnormal growths of cells within the brain or its surrounding tissues. As Health Shots spoke to Dr (Prof) Kameshwar Prasad, Director, Neurology, Fortis Hospital, Vasant Kunj, he explained that brain tumors can be divided into two main types: as primary, originating within the brain (known as de novo brain tumor), or secondary, spreading from other parts of the body.

He further explained that “the tumors that originate in the brain usually stay confined within the skull and don’t typically spread to other areas. However, there are tumors that begin elsewhere, like the lungs or breasts, and then metastasize or spread to the brain. These tumors are called brain metastases.” Brain tumors can have severe consequences on an individual’s physical, cognitive, and emotional functions, depending on their size and location.

brain tumor
Brain tumors are mainly of two types. Image courtesy: Adobe Stock

Link between alcohol consumption and brain tumor

Unlike smoking, excessive alcohol consumption is not a direct risk factor for de novo brain tumor development. “However, in cases where liver tumors develop due to alcohol-related liver cirrhosis, they can spread to the brain and cause brain tumor symptoms,” says Dr Prasad. But as a general rule, alcohol consumption itself is not a direct cause of de novo brain tumors.

While the exact mechanisms behind alcohol’s impact on brain tumor development are not yet fully understood, several hypotheses have been proposed:

1. DNA damage and mutations: Alcohol metabolites can cause DNA damage and mutations, leading to abnormal cell growth. This process could potentially contribute to the development of brain tumors.

Also read: World Brain Tumour Day: Can you survive a brain tumour?

2. Weakening the immune system: Chronic alcohol consumption weakens the immune system, impairing its ability to identify and destroy cancerous cells. This compromised defense mechanism may increase the risk of brain tumor formation.

alcohol and brain tumor
Alcohol can weaken your immunity and be a cause of brain tumor. Image courtesy: Shutterstock

3. Nutritional deficiencies: Alcohol abuse often leads to poor dietary habits and inadequate nutrient intake. Malnutrition, specifically a deficiency in antioxidants and essential vitamins, may play a role in promoting brain tumor growth.

Connection between smoking and brain tumor

Dr Prasad explained that smoking tobacco can lead to both types of brain tumor:

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1. Smoking and metastatic brain tumor

“Smoking is a well-known cause of lung cancer, and lung cancer has a tendency to spread to the brain,” says Dr Prasad. When lung cancer cells spread to the brain, it can cause symptoms such as headaches, vomiting, and seizures. This association between tumors originating elsewhere and migrating to the brain is strong.

Also read: World Brain Tumor Day: Read 7 myths and facts about brain tumor

2. Smoking and de novo brain tumors

Recent studies indicate that smoking can increase the risk of developing de novo brain tumors, which are tumors that originate directly within the brain. “The most common type of de novo brain tumor is called glioma, and it has been found to be influenced by smoking,” says Dr Prasad. Research suggests that smoking can raise the risk of developing gliomas by 15 to 20 per cent. Therefore, smoking is considered a significant risk factor for this particular type of brain tumor.

smoking and brain tumor
Smoking can lead to brain tumor. Image courtesy: Shutterstock

While further research is needed to establish a definitive causal relationship, current evidence indicates a potential association between excessive alcohol consumption, smoking, and an increased risk of brain tumors. It is crucial to recognize the significance of adopting healthier lifestyle choices and reducing these risk factors. By moderating alcohol consumption and avoiding smoking, individuals can positively impact their overall well-being and potentially reduce their chances of developing brain tumors.

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About the Author

Manasvi Jain is a professional writer with a keen interest in spreading awareness about various health and wellness issues through her articles. She writes well researched articles by connecting with various doctors and health experts. ...Read More

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