The Link Between Alcohol Consumption and Cancer Risk

Alcohol consumption is a common social activity, but its impact on health, particularly its association with cancer risk, is a topic of concern. Alcohol is the strongest modifiable risk factor for cancer after tobacco use and excess body weight.1 Understanding the relationship between alcohol and cancer is crucial for making informed choices about health. In this blog post, we shed light on how alcohol consumption may contribute to an elevated risk of developing certain types of cancer.

The Scientific Connection: Scientific research consistently shows a clear connection between alcohol consumption and an increased risk of developing various types of cancer.2 This link is not limited to a specific type of alcohol but extends to all forms, including beer, wine, and spirits.1   Types of Cancer Associated with Alcohol: Alcohol consumption has been linked to an elevated risk of developing cancers such as breast, liver, esophageal, colorectal, stomach, and mouth/throat cancers.1 The risk increases with the amount and duration of alcohol consumption.2   Mechanism Behind the Link: Understanding the biological mechanisms behind this connection is crucial. Alcohol can be converted into acetaldehyde, a known carcinogen, in the body.3 Additionally, alcohol consumption may contribute to increased levels of estrogen, a hormone associated with breast cancer, and cause inflammation, which plays a role in the development of various cancers.3 Alcoholic beverages may also contain carcinogenic contaminants that are introduced during production, such as nitrosamines, asbestos fibers, phenols, and hydrocarbons.3   Moderation Matters: Moderation is key when it comes to alcohol consumption.4 While complete abstinence is the safest option, individuals who choose to drink should be aware of the associated risks and limit their intake to recommended levels.4 Moderate drinking is generally defined as up to one drink per day for women and up to two drinks per day for men.4   Individual Variations: It’s crucial to recognize that individual responses to alcohol can vary. Some people may be more susceptible to the carcinogenic effects of alcohol due to genetic factors, existing health conditions, or lifestyle choices.3 Individuals should consider their unique circumstances when evaluating their alcohol consumption.   Screening and Early Detection: The importance of regular cancer screenings cannot be overstated, especially for individuals who engage in frequent alcohol consumption. Early detection can significantly improve the chances of successful treatment. Here is a comprehensive list of types of cancer screenings from the National Cancer Institute.

Understanding the link between cancer and alcohol consumption empowers individuals to make informed decisions about their intake.  Consulting with healthcare professionals and staying informed about the latest research is key to maintaining a healthy lifestyle. Good health is an investment that pays lifelong dividends. 

Mocktails are growing in popularity and appearing on menus at many bars and restaurants. Making them at home is a fun activity as well. Below is a delicious recipe to try in the kitchen:

Orange Creamsicle Mocktail

(makes 2)


  • 1 knob ginger
  • .5 oz honey syrup
  • 2 oz lime juice
  • 2 oz NA orange liqueur (optional)
  • 4 oz orange juice
  • 4 oz NA tequila (optional)
  • 3 tbs greek yogurt
  • 1/8 tsp vanilla


In a shaker, muddle ginger with honey syrup. Add lime juice, NA orange liqueur, OJ, NA tequila, vanilla and greek yogurt. Add ice and shake well. Add to a glass with ice. Use orange zest and sugar to rim the glasses! If you don’t have NA options, omit and top the drink with sparkling water instead.

*Disclaimer: Any general advice posted on the Agilix Health blog or website is intended for reference and educational purposes only. This information is not intended to replace or substitute for any professional medical advice, diagnosis, treatment, or other professional advice. If you have specific concerns or require medical advice, consult with an appropriately qualified and licensed medical services provider.


  1. Most Americans still unaware that alcohol is a cause of cancer. American Institute for Cancer Research. 2023. Accessed January 18, 2024.
  2. Yoo JE, Han K, Shin DW, et al. Association Between Changes in Alcohol Consumption and Cancer Risk. JAMA Netw Open.2022;5(8):e2228544. doi:10.1001/jamanetworkopen.2022.28544
  3. Alcohol and cancer risk fact sheet. National Cancer Institute. 2023. Accessed January 18, 2024.

CDC. Facts about moderate drinking. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. April 19, 2022. Accessed January 18, 2024.