Alcohol and Colorectal Cancer Risk
Regularly drinking alcohol of any kind – wine, beer, liquor – increases risk for several cancers, including colorectal. March is Colorectal Cancer Awareness month and AICR is focusing on alcohol as one of several lifestyle factors that affect Americans’ risk for this deadly, but preventable cancer.
The AICR/WCRF expert report, Food, Nutrition, Physical Activity, and the Prevention of Cancer: a Global Perspective and the latest Continuous Update Project on colorectal cancer showed that for every 10 grams per day of alcohol consumed (less than 1 standard drink), men’s risk increases by 11 percent, and women's risk increases by 7 per cent for colorectal cancer. Alcohol also ups the risks for breast, oral, esophageal and liver cancers.
How Many Drinks in One Glass?
If you do drink, you can minimize your risk by limiting how many drinks you have and controlling portions. But, do you know what one standard drink size is? Just like many food portions, wine glasses and specialty cocktails have become super-sized. An alcoholic beverage you get at a bar or restaurant may actually contain enough alcohol to qualify as 3 or more drinks.
One standard drink contains about 14 grams of pure alcohol and is equivalent to 5 ounces of wine, 12 ounces of beer or 1½ ounces of liquor (80 proof).
Not Just the Alcohol….
As with many other beverages, beer, wine and mixed drinks also contain calories that add up fast and can lead to too much body fat, another cause of colorectal cancer. Although it doesn’t seem like you’re getting many calories when you drink, you are – and they probably don’t fill you up as much as many foods would. In the chart below, you can compare the number of calories in some typical alcoholic drinks to calories in more filling foods.
The bottom line for alcohol and cancer – if you drink, keep your amount small and occasions infrequent.
|Beverage||Serving||Calories (average)||Foods with Equal Calories|
|Beer||12 oz||150||2 slices bread|
|Light beer||12 oz||110||1 medium sweet potato|
|80-proof liquor: gin, rum, vodka, tequila, whiskey||1½ oz||98||1 medium apple|
|Liqueurs||1½ oz||188||1 cup spaghetti|
|Red wine||5 oz||125||1½ cup blueberries|
|White wine||5 oz||121||2¼ cups strawberries|
|Margarita||4 oz||168||1½ cups Cheerios|
|Pina Colada||9 oz||460||Quarter Pounder|