A large body of evidence consistently shows that consumption of alcohol is a risk factor for cancer.
Drinking alcohol increases the risk of mouth & throat cancer (larynx and pharynx), oesophageal cancer, bowel cancer (colon and rectum), liver cancer and female breast cancer.
It's not just heavy drinking – even small amounts of alcohol increases risk, but the more you drink, the greater the risk. Your risk of cancer is the same for all types of alcohol including beer, wine and spirits; and there's no evidence that alcohol helps protect you from any type of cancer.
How much should I drink?
To reduce the risk of cancer, you should limit your intake of alcohol or, better still, avoid it all together.
If you do choose to drink, we recommend drinking within the National Health and Medical Research Council Australian Guidelines to Reduce Health Risks from Drinking Alcohol – that is, no more than 2 standard drinks a day.
Tips for drinking less
If you choose to drink:
- Alternate alcoholic drinks with non-alcoholic ones like sparkling or plain water (soda, lime and bitters is a great alternative to alcohol).
- Eat some food when you drink alcohol. Think of a glass of wine or beer as something to have with a meal rather than on its own.
- Dilute alcoholic drinks, for example, try a shandy (beer and lemonade) or white wine and mineral water.
- Choose a low-alcohol (or no-alcohol) beer and/or wine.
- Use water to quench your thirst and sip alcoholic drinks slowly.
- Offer to be the designated driver when you go out so you drink less, but make sure you stay under .05.
- Avoid binge drinking (a single occasion of heavy drinking over a short period of time).
- Have at least 1 or 2 alcohol-free days each week.