Drink Less Live More

Frequently Asked Questions

1. Do all types of alcohol cause cancer?

It doesn’t matter what type of alcohol you drink – whether it’s beer, wine, spirits or alcopops, the risk is still the same. There is no conclusive evidence to suggest that alcohol can help protect against cancer. Even small amounts of alcohol can increase your risk.

If you choose to drink, Cancer Council Victoria recommends that you drink no more than two standard drinks a day and have at least one or two alcohol-free days a week.

2. What’s worse: binge-drinking or spreading my drinking over the week?

There is no direct evidence to suggest there is a direct link between single binge-drinking episodes and cancer. However, we do know that the cumulative effect of alcohol consumption over many years is what places you at risk of cancer. The more you drink, the greater your risk.

Drinking moderate amounts of alcohol regularly increases your risk of developing some types of cancer as well as stroke, liver disease, mental health problems and alcohol dependence. To reduce your risk of long term harm, limit your drinking to no more than two standard drinks per day. 

Drinking large amounts of alcohol over a short period of time will put you at risk of short- term harms like accidents and injuries, vomiting, hangovers and blackouts. To reduce your risk of short-term harm, limit your drinking to four standard drinks on a single occasion.

3. Are there any health benefits to drinking alcohol?

Any claims that there are direct health benefits from drinking alcohol should be treated with extreme caution. Research published recently in The British Medical Journal actually suggests that drinking alcohol provides little to no protection against disease.

There is no conclusive evidence that consuming alcohol can reduce your cancer risk. In fact, there is a clear link between the amount of alcohol that someone drinks and their chances of developing some cancers. There is convincing evidence that alcohol is a cause of cancer of the liver, throat, bowel (in men), and breast (in women) and probable evidence that alcohol increases the risk of bowel cancer in women, and stomach cancer. The level of risk increases as consumption increases.

Even moderate alcohol consumption may increase your risk of cancer, particularly if you drink regularly over a long period. For those who do drink, the key is to limit alcohol consumption.

If you choose to drink alcohol, Cancer Council recommends that you drink only within the national guideline for low risk alcohol consumption, which is to consume no more than two standard drinks a day.