Prevention & Screening
Prevention and Screening
Cancers Related to Alcohol Use

Mouth, pharynx, and larynx

The evidence that alcoholic drinks are a cause of mouth, pharynx, and larynx cancers is convincing. A person’s cancer risk increases with the amount of alcohol they drink. Alcohol and tobacco together increase a person’s risk of getting these cancers more than use of either alcohol or tobacco by itself. 1

Esophagus

The evidence that alcoholic drinks are a cause of cancer of the esophagus is convincing. A person’s cancer risk increases with the amount of alcohol they drink. Alcohol and tobacco together increase a person’s risk of getting these cancers more than use of either alcohol or tobacco by itself. 2

Colorectum

The evidence that alcoholic drinks are a cause of cancer of the colorectum is convincing. A person’s cancer risk increases with the amount of alcohol they drink. The evidence shows that consuming more than 30 g/day of alcohol is a cause of colorectal cancer in men and probably a cause in women. Thirty grams would be about 2 standard drinks a day. 3

Breast

The evidence that alcoholic drinks are a cause of premenopausal and postmenopausal breast cancer is convincing. A person’s cancer risk increases with the amount of alcohol they drink. A recent study has shown that with as little as one alcoholic drink a day the risk of breast cancer increases by 4%. Drinking three or more drinks a day increases the risk of breast cancer by 40 to 50%. 4 6

Liver

The evidence suggests that alcohol probably increases the risk of liver cancer. A person’s risk of cancer increases with the amount of alcohol consumed. Alcohol is a cause of cirrhosis of the liver that predisposes a person to liver cancer, but the factors that determine why some people are susceptible to cirrhosis are not known. 5

1 2 3 4 5World Cancer Research Fund/American Institute for Cancer Research. Food, Nutrition, Physical Activity, and the Prevention of Cancer: a Global Perspective. Washington DC: AICR, 2007

6Helmut K. Seitz, Claudio Pelucchi, Vincenzo Bagnardi, and Carlo La Vecchia Epidemiology and Pathophysiology of Alcohol and Breast Cancer: Update 2012, Alcohol and Alcoholism, Advance Access published March 29, 2012.