Alcohol and cancer

Over the long-term, drinking alcohol increases your risk of serious illnesses such as mouth, throat and breast cancer. Of course, not everyone who drinks will get cancer. But scientists have found that some cancers are more common in people who drink alcohol than those who don’t. Alcohol can cause at least seven types of cancer, including:

  • Head and neck cancers (including cancers affecting the mouth, voice box and upper throat)
  • Bowel cancer
  • Breast cancer
  • Liver cancer

Heavy drinking can cause liver cirrhosis (scarring of the liver) which can then lead to cancer.

Reduce your risk

Have several drink-free days
To cut down your risk, try having several drink-free days per week.Studies show that even small amounts of alcohol can increase the risk of bowel cancer. A study of 500,000 people in 10 European countries found that for every 2 units drunk a day, your risk of bowel cancer goes up by 8%.

Eat well and exercise
Eating well and exercising are key to staying healthy. Eating at least five portions of fresh fruit and vegetables can help protect against cancer, especially mouth, throat, stomach and lung cancers.

Just 30 minutes of activity a day, five days a week, can have a positive effect on your health. Research has shown that it can also reduce the risk of breast, bowel or womb cancer.