Alcohol and cancer




Drinking alcohol increases the risk of developing some cancers, particularly cancers of the mouth, throat, oesophagus, bowel, liver and breast. Oral cancers are six times more common in alcohol drinkers than in non-drinkers.

It is not just heavy drinking that increases cancer risk. Even drinking small amounts of alcohol increases the risk of cancer, and the more you drink, the greater the risk.

How much should I drink?
Cancer Council recommends that people limit or avoid alcohol consumption. Those who do not drink should not take up drinking alcohol.

For people who do drink alcohol, the recommended amounts are:

  • An average of no more than 2 standard drinks a day
  • To avoid binge drinking (more than 4 standard drinks in one session)

What is a standard drink?
One standard drink contains 10g of alcohol and equals:

  • 100mL of wine
  • 30mL (one nip) of spirits
  • 60mL (two nips) of sherry
  • 285mL (one middy) of normal strength beer
  • 450mL (one schooner) of low alcohol (light) beer
  • 220-250mL ready to drink alcoholic sodas

Some cocktails contain more than three standard drinks!

Click here for more standard drink information.

But isn’t alcohol good for my heart?
The evidence suggesting alcohol in moderation is good for protecting against heart disease is not as strong as was once thought. The Heart Foundation does not recommend alcohol consumption for the treatment or prevention of heart disease. There are many positive things that you can do to reduce your risk of heart disease, such as healthy eating, regular physical activity and not smoking. These measures can also reduce your risk of cancer.

What about different types of alcohol – beer, wine or spirits?
The type of alcohol you drink doesn’t appear to make any difference. Beer, wine and spirits all increase the risk of cancer.

Can I drink more on social occasions?

Drinking large amounts of alcohol at once (binge drinking) is not recommended. For people who drink alcohol, the recommendations are an average of no more than two standard drinks a day.

Smoking and alcohol
It has been known for a long time that smoking is harmful to health. The combined effect of smoking and drinking alcohol greatly exceed the risk from either one of these factors alone.

Is alcohol fattening?

Being overweight is also a risk for developing many types of cancers, including bowel, kidney, pancreas, oesophagus, endometrium (lining of the womb) breast (after menopause).

Alcoholic drinks represent ‘empty kilojoules’ – that is, alcoholic drinks are high in energy (kilojoules) but low in nutritional value, especially when added to sugary mixer drinks. If you drink alcohol in addition to your normal dietary intake without reducing the kilojoules you eat, you may gain weight.

When you drink alcohol you often become less aware of the food you are eating and can easily overeat. Combining fatty foods with alcohol is the worst combination of all for weight gain, so avoid high fat snacks such as chips while drinking. Try low fat crackers or breadsticks instead.

Tips for drinking less

  • Switch to low alcohol (light) beer
  • Alternate alcoholic drinks with water or soft drinks
  • Order only half nips of spirits
  • Use water to quench thirst and sip alcoholic drinks slowly
  • Don’t fill wine glasses to the top
  • Wait until your wine glass is empty before topping it up to help keep count of your drinks
  • Have a few alcohol-free days during the week, especially if you are a regular drinker
  • Offer to be the designated driver
  • Socialise with friends in places such as cafes rather than pubs and clubs where binge drinking is less likely and better food choices are available.

See the Alcohol and Cancer Position Statement for more information.


Instructions for downloading and reading EPUB files

Apple devices

The iBooks application must be installed on your Apple device before you can read the EPUB.
Different ways to download an EPUB file to your Apple device:

  • email EPUB files to yourself and transfer the attachment to iBooks.
  • copy EPUB files into DropBox (or a similar service) and use the DropBox app to send them to iBooks.
  • open EPUB files directly from Mobile Safari and open them in iBooks, where they are saved automatically by downloading the EPUB from the website.

Need more help? Visit:


To download an EPUB file to your Kobo from a Windows computer:

  • download and save the EPUB directly onto your desktop.
  • connect your Kobo to your computer using the USB cable and tap “Connect” on your eReader.
  • select “Open folder to view files” to view the contents of your Kobo.
  • navigate to where you have stored your EPUB file in “Finder”, in documents or downloads, and drag and drop it into the Kobo window. You can now disconnect your Kobo to read the eBook.

To download an EPUB to your Kobo from a Mac:

  • download and save the EPUB directly onto your desktop.
  • connect your Kobo to your computer using the USB cable and tap “Connect” on your eReader.
  • open your “Finder” application.
  • select “Kobo eReader” from the listed devices to view the contents of your Kobo.
  • navigate to where you have stored your EPUB file in “Finder”, probably in documents or downloads, and drag and drop it into the Kobo window. You can now disconnect your Kobo to read the eBook.

Turn on your Kobo and your EPUB will be located in “eBooks”, while a PDF will be located in “Documents”.
Need more information? Visit:

Sony Reader

To download an EPUB file on your Sony Reader™:

  • ensure you have already installed the Reader™ Library for PC/Mac software
  • select the eBook you want from our website and click the link to download it.
  • connect the Reader™ to your computer.
  • open the Reader™ Library software and click “Library” in the left-hand pane and select the eBook to view it.

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Amazon Kindle 2nd Generation devices

EPUB files can’t be read on the Amazon Kindle™. However, like most eReaders, Kindle™ 2nd Generation devices are able to display PDFs. We recommend that you download the PDF version of this booklet if you would like to read it on a Kindle™.
To transfer a PDF to your Kindle™ via USB cable from your computer or Mac:

  • download the PDF directly onto your computer.
  • connect the USB cable to your computer’s USB port, and the micro USB end of the cable to your Kindle™. Note: the Kindle™ won’t be available as a reading device while it is connected to your computer until it has been disconnected.
  • open the Kindle™ drive and several folders will appear inside. The “Documents” folder is where you will need to copy or drag the PDF to.
  • safely eject your Kindle™ from your computer and unplug the USB cable. Your content will appear on the Home Screen.

Kindle also provides a Kindle Personal Documents Service that allows users to send documents as an attachment directly to your eReader. For more information on this service, visit
For more information on accessing a PDF on your Kindle™, visit, log in to your account and click on Personal Document Settings.
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Android and PC

You can also download and open eBooks on Android devices and PCs with appropriate apps or software installed. Suitable eReader apps for Android include Google Play Books, FBReader and Moon+ Reader. Suitable software for PCs include Calibre and Adobe Digital Editions.