Alcohol may be a cause of some types of cancer

Cancer is caused by a complex interplay of factors, including our genetic make-up, what we eat and drink, the lifestyle choices we make, hormones, radiation, stress, lack of social support, the environment in which we live and work, and some factors that are not yet known.

Alcohol consumption has been studied as a possible cause of cancer, especially in recent years, and some organisations have concluded that alcohol consumption can cause certain types of cancer. For example, the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC), a part of the World Health Organisation, has concluded that cancers of the oral cavity, pharynx, larynx, oesophagus, liver, colorectum, and breast are caused by alcohol consumption and that the risk increases with the amount of alcohol consumed. Alcohol may also be linked to other forms of cancer including lung, stomach, pancreatic and endometrial cancer. The United States National Toxicology Program (NTP) found that studies indicate that the risk of cancer related to alcohol consumption is most pronounced among smokers and at the highest levels of consumption.

On the other hand, some studies have suggested that moderate alcohol consumption can be linked to a lower risk of bladder, kidney, ovarian and prostate cancer, as well as non-Hodgkin lymphoma. Still, we do not encourage people to drink alcohol beverages for any health benefits they may provide.

Alcohol and cancer

Dr Alfred Neugut talks about links between alcohol and cancer