Research has shown that alcohol consumption is one of a number of factors that contribute to the risk for developing certain types of cancer, including cancers of the upper digestive tract, as well as liver, breast, colorectal, and kidney cancer.
Cancer risk associated with the consumption of alcohol is related to patterns of drinking, particularly heavy drinking over extended periods of time.
Not all heavy drinkers get cancer as multiple risk factors are involved in the development of cancers including genetics and family history of cancer, age, environmental factors, and behavioural variables, as well as social determinants of health.
If you do drink regularly, it is advisable to drink at or below Australia’s National Health and Medical Research Council’s Alcohol Guidelines: the more you cut down, the more you reduce your risk of cancer.
Throat and neck cancer
When you smoke cigarettes and drink heavy amounts of alcohol, you significantly increase your risk of cancer – especially cancers of the mouth and throat.
Drinking can cause complications with your liver such as alcoholic hepatitis and liver cirrhosis which increase your risk of developing liver cancer.
Drinking alcohol does not necessarily mean that you will get breast cancer – but it means your risk of developing it will be increased. The likelihood of developing breast cancer is impacted upon by how much you drink over your lifetime, as well as other risk factors for the disease such as lifestyle, family history, medical history, reproductive history, hormone replacement therapy, obesity and exposure to cancer-causing compounds or carcinogens.
For more information about the effects of alcohol on your body, check out our interactive tool.