Drinking alcohol increases the risk of cancers of the mouth, throat, oesophagus, liver, stomach, bowel and breast.
It is not just heavy drinking, even drinking small amounts of alcohol increases the risk of cancer but the more you drink the greater the risk. Your risk of cancer is the same for all types of alcohol including beer, wine and spirits. There is no evidence that alcohol helps protect you from any type of cancer.
How much should I drink?
To reduce your risk of cancer we recommend you:
- limit how much alcohol you drink
- or better still, avoid drinking alcohol altogether
If you choose to drink, the recommended amount for men and women is no more than two standard drinks a day.
What is a standard drink?
One standard drink is equal to:
- one 375 ml can or bottle of mid strength beer
- 100 ml of wine (one glass of wine)
- 30 ml of spirits (one measure of spirits)
- one 250ml can of full strength pre-mix spirits (5% alcohol)
Tips for drinking less
If you do choose to drink:
- Alternate alcoholic drinks with non-alcoholic ones like sparkling or plain water.
- Eat some food when you drink alcohol. Think of a a glass of wine or beer as something to have with a meal rather than on its own.
- Dilute alcoholic drinks, for example, try a shandy (beer and lemonade), white wine and mineral water.
- Choose low-alcohol beer and wine drinks.
- Avoid binge drinking.
- Use water to quench your thirst and sip alcoholic drinks slowly.
- Have at least 1 or 2 alcohol free days each week.
Read our Information Sheet Alcohol.
For current information about the association between alcohol and cancer please refer to the National Cancer Prevention Policy.