Let’s talk about alcohol… and cancer prevention

by Gary Trenaman 02 Jul 2020

Social drinking has had a role in defining Australian culture, yet less than half of NSW adults are aware that alcohol consumption is a risk factor for cancer. Research indicates that even drinking small amounts of alcohol increases the risk, and the more you drink, the greater the risk. Health benefits from drinking have not been established in studies.


What we know:

  1. Oral cancers are six times more common in alcohol drinkers than in non-drinkers.
  2. Between 1.9 - 5.8% of all cancers are attributable to long-term, chronic use of alcohol each year in Australia.
  3. Together, smoking and alcohol have a synergistic effect on cancer risk, meaning the combined effects are significantly greater than the sum of individual risks.
  4. Alcohol has a comparatively high energy content (29 kilojoules per gram) compared with other macronutrients so is likely to contribute to weight gain. Excess weight increases the risk of some cancers.



  • The NH&MRC recommends no more than two standard drinks per day, and no more than 4 drinks in any one session.
  • One standard drink contains 10g of alcohol and equals: 100mL of wine, 30mL (one nip) of spirits, 285mL (one middy) of normal strength beer.
  • 1 in 6 Australians consume alcohol at levels placing them at lifetime risk of an alcohol-related disease or injury. If you need help reducing your intake or quitting, talk to your GP and get some support. Remember, you’re not alone.


Read more about Can Too’s investment in Cancer Prevention