1 in 3 cases of cancer can be prevented.1

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Alcohol and cancer

Did you know drinking too much alcohol can cause breast cancer? Alcohol consumption is responsible for approximately 830 cases of breast cancer each year and nearly 870 cases of bowel cancer in Australia each year. In fact, we now know that alcohol causes more than 3,200 cancer cases each year. Alcohol is proven to increase your risk of 7 different types of cancer including mouth, throat, 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 2 standard drinks a day. 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 here.


    Examples of 1 standard drink:

    • 1 x 375 mL bottle of mid strength beer = 1 standard drink
    • 100 mL of wine (one small glass of wine) = 1 standard drink
    • 30 mL of spirits (one measure of spirits) = 1 standard drink

Tips to reduce your cancer risk:

  • Cut down your alcohol consumption. Any reduction will reduce your cancer risk
  • Limit your alcohol consumption to no more than 2 standard drinks a day
  • 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
Cancer risk quiz

Find out how you can reduce your cancer risk by answering 10 quick questions and download our FREE cookbook:

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1. Cancers in Australia in 2010 attributable to modifiable risk factors: summary and conclusions