Heavy drinking had been associated with greater risk of certain cancers, including breast, colon, liver and mouth cancers, but researchers note there has been little research on how alcohol consumption affects cancer risk independent of smoking. Smoking is a well-established risk factor for many alcohol-related cancers, and because drinkers are more likely to smoke, smoking may have been a confounding factor in linking alcohol consumption with cancer risk.

Arman AhmedAmina Javed is currently working as a Clinical Psychologist atWilling Ways, Lahore. In 2015, she completed her MS in clinical psychology,from Centre Clinical Psychology, University of the Punjab, Lahore. She had training of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, Rational Emotive Behavioral Therapy, Behavior Therapy and she is interested in Dialectic Behavior Therapy as well.

Editor: Samreen Masud

The team analyzed data from two large US studies involving 88,084 women and 47,881 men, whose health was monitored for up to 30 years.The alcohol consumption of participants was determined via a dietary intake questionnaire completed every 4 years.Light to moderate drinking was defined as up to one standard drink, or 15 g or alcohol, a day for women and up to two standard drinks daily, or 30 g of alcohol, for men. One standard drink is the equivalent to a 118 ml glass of wine or a 355 ml bottle of beer. The researchers assessed their risk of alcohol-related cancers, including colon, rectal, liver, breast, oral cavity, pharynx and esophagus cancers.

Men and women who engaged in light to moderate drinking were found to be at a small but “non-significant” increased total cancer risk, regardless of their smoking history.However, the researchers found that women who engaged in light to moderate drinking were at greater risk of alcohol-related cancers, particularly breast cancer. Among men, light to moderate drinking was only linked to increased risk of alcohol-related cancers in those who had a history of smoking.


While more research is needed to further assess the link between smoking and alcohol consumption on cancer risk, he believes the current findings suggest women should consume no more than one alcoholic beverage daily and men should drink no more than two.