Higher cancer risk
While some research suggests that drinking wine may support heart health, drinking alcohol has not been shown to reduce cancer risk. To the contrary, studies reveal that alcohol consumption is associated with a higher risk of developing several types of cancer (ACS, 2012; Runowicz, 2015). Alcohol intake by cancer survivors has also been shown to increase risk of recurrence. For example, studies show that breast cancer survivors who drank more than three to four drinks per week were at a higher risk for recurrence (Runowicz, 2015).
Excess drinking is also associated with weight gain, which is one of the greatest known risk factors for cancer. Therefore, limiting alcohol consumption to the recommended amount or less is an important strategy for reducing long-term cancer risk (ACS, 2012).
If cancer survivors choose to drink alcohol, consumption should be limited to no more than one drink per day for women and two drinks per day for men (ACS, 2012; Runowicz, 2015). One drink is defined as:
- 12 ounces of beer
- 5 ounces of wine
- 1.5 ounces of 80-proof distilled spirits
With regards to cancer risk, studies show that the overall amount of alcohol consumed is the important factor, not the type of alcohol consumed (ACS, 2012; Runowicz, 2015). This limit refers to daily consumption and should not be used to justify drinking greater amounts of alcohol on fewer days (ACS, 2012).
Don’t drink if you are under the legal drinking age, are or may become pregnant, have a history of alcoholism, are taking any medications that may have an interaction with alcohol, if you plan to drive or operate machinery, or if your doctor has told you not to drink (ACS, 2012).