There is research that has demonstrated an increased risk of developing melanoma in people who regularly drink alcohol. While the mechanism for this isn’t clear, alcohol consumption increases an individual’s likelihood of getting sunburned, a risk factor for skin cancer. While, those who drink may spend more time in the sun and be less likely to apply/reapply sunscreen, there appear to be other factors involved. A recent study of men from Germany demonstrated that after drinking alcohol, the amount of UV light it took to burn the skin was significantly less.
The researchers also measured the concentration of carotenoids in the study participants’ bodies. Carotenoids are the yellow, orange and red pigments that are produced by plants. When we consume carotenoids from fruits and vegetables, these pigments exert an antioxidant effect in our bodies that may help protect against the damage done by the UV light. In the study, the men’s carotenoid levels were lower after they consumed alcohol, so the researchers speculate that this decline in antioxidants may make the skin more vulnerable to the adverse effects of the sun.
More research is needed but it appears that the increased tendency to sunburn when drinking alcohol is a contributing factor to developing skin cancer. The bottom line is: moderate drinking and minimize sun exposure.