Alcohol and cancer
Did you know drinking too much alcohol can cause breast and bowel cancers? In fact, we now know that alcohol causes more than 3,500 cancer cases each year. Alcohol is proven to increase your risk of 8 different types of cancer including mouth, pharynx, larynx, oesophagus, stomach, bowel, liver and breast.
Did you know if you’ve had cancer, cutting down on alcohol can help prevent it from coming back?
How alcohol increases cancer risk
Alcoholic drinks contain ethanol, which irritates your body’s cells. Over a prolonged period of time (even with moderate amounts), this cell irritation can lead to cancer. Alcohol can damage the lining of the mouth and throat causing cancer in these parts of the body. Alcohol can also impact the levels of hormones that are linked to breast cancer. And when alcohol is digested it can break down into compounds that cause bowel cancer. Your risk of getting cancer increases with every alcoholic drink you consume.
To find out your cancer risk, take the Cancer Risk Quiz.
Cancer Council recommendations
If you drink, Cancer Council recommends no more than 10 standard drinks a week, and no more than 4 standard drinks on any occasion. And it’s important to remember that drinks served at home, restaurants and bars are usually more than a standard drink. Try replacing alcohol with water on occasion, and picking up some alcohol-free days each week.
Cutting down on alcohol will reduce your cancer risk.
Find out more about alcohol and cancer prevention.
One standard drink contains 10g of alcohol. Some examples of 1 standard drink:
- 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
Tips to reduce your cancer risk:
- Cut down your alcohol use. Any reduction will reduce your cancer risk
- Limit your alcohol consumption to no more than 10 standard drinks a week and no more than 4 standard drinks in any occasion
- Pick up water to quench your thirst, instead of reaching for a beer, wine or spirit
- Commit to having some alcohol-free days each week.
- If you’ve had cancer, visit Life after cancer treatment to find out what support is available.