The Link Between Drinking and Cancer

Written By:Stacy Simon

Editor’s Note: Guidelines on diet and physical activity are updated as scientific evidence continues to evolve. Please read the most recent recommendations here.

Most people know that drinking too much alcohol can lead to health problems. But not everyone knows that one of those health problems may be cancer. With alcohol, the key to staying healthy is moderation.

Having one drink at dinner or a party isn’t likely to cause you much harm. But routinely having more than 1 or 2 drinks per day could raise your cancer risk. Drinking alcohol is linked to a higher risk of mouth and throat cancers, liver cancer, colorectal cancer, and breast cancer.

The American Cancer Society recommends limiting alcohol to no more than 1 drink per day for women and 2 for men.

What counts as a drink?

  • 12 ounces of beer
  • 5 ounces of wine
  • 1.5 ounces of hard liquor

Festive drinks can be alcohol-free.

If you drink at all, moderation is wise for a lot of reasons. Overdoing it can lead to many serious health problems, including liver damage, an inflamed pancreas, high blood pressure, psychological disorders, and alcohol dependence.

Limiting your alcohol intake doesn’t mean you can’t still have a fun and festive party or meal. Try this recipe for a non-alcoholic sangria from the American Cancer Society cookbook Celebrate! Healthy Entertaining for Any Occasion, which you can get in the American Cancer Society bookstore. Each serving has approximately 90 calories. To add a festive touch, add fruit such as fresh pineapple, frozen grapes, maraschino cherries, or orange slices.

Recipe: Sangria Blanca Punch

  • 4½ cups pineapple juice
  • 1½ cups white grape juice
  • 1½ cups passion fruit juice
  • ½ cup fresh lime juice
  • 2 12-ounce cans ginger ale

Combine all juices in a punch bowl. Chill.

Just before serving, add ginger ale, stirring gently. Serve in cups with ice.

Serves 8.

The American Cancer Society medical and editorial content team

Our team is made up of doctors and oncology certified nurses with deep knowledge of cancer care as well as journalists, editors, and translators with extensive experience in medical writing.

Receive lifestyle tips each month to stay well and help lower your cancer risk. Sign up for the Healthy Living newsletter now.

Helpful resources

Receive lifestyle tips each month to stay well and help lower your cancer risk. Sign up for the Healthy Living newsletter now.

American Cancer Society news stories are copyrighted material and are not intended to be used as press releases. For reprint requests, please see our Content Usage Policy.