Alcohol and cancer risk

There is now strong evidence that alcohol increases the risk of several cancers, including cancers of the mouth, pharynx, larynx, esophagus, liver, breast, stomach and colorectum. Even small amounts of alcohol consumed regularly increase the risk for certain cancers, such as breast.

Scientists are still researching how alcohol causes cancer. Ethanol, the alcohol found in drinks, is a recognized carcinogen that may lead to DNA damage. Alcohol could also reduce folate absorption or help potential carcinogens enter cells.

For cancer prevention, AICR recommends not to drink alcohol. However, our recommendations recognize that modest amounts of alcohol may have a protective effect on heart disease and type 2 diabetes. If you do drink alcohol, limit your consumption to no more than two drinks a day for men and one drink a day for women. Alcohol appears particularly harmful when combined with smoking.

alcohol infographic

Serving sizes vary for for different types of alcohol: