Does Alcohol Cause Cancer?

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Reducing alcohol consumption correlates with a decreased risk of cancer. Consuming alcohol elevates the likelihood of developing various types of cancer, including those affecting the mouth, throat, larynx, esophagus, colon, rectum, liver, and breast (in women).

Research shows that consuming three or more alcoholic drinks daily heightens the risk of stomach and pancreatic cancers. Additionally, evidence suggests an increased risk of prostate cancer associated with alcohol consumption. All forms of alcoholic beverages, including red and white wine, beer, and liquor, are linked to cancer. The quantity of alcohol consumed directly correlates with an elevated risk of cancer— the more a person drinks, the higher the risk.

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How Alcohol Increases Cancer Risk

After consuming alcohol, the body metabolizes it into a chemical known as acetaldehyde. This substance harms DNA and hinders the body’s capacity to mend the damage. DNA serves as an instruction manual for cells, governing growth and function. When DNA sustains damage, a cell may initiate uncontrolled growth, giving rise to the formation of cancerous cells.

Alcohol can also create highly reactive and unstable molecules called free radicals that can further damage DNA and cause oxidative stress in the body. Frequent, long-term drinking can also lead to vitamin and mineral deficiencies that are building blocks for healthy cell function, and these deficiencies can prevent DNA repair, causing further damage and risk of cancer.

Other risks that come with alcohol use include hormonal changes, immune system suppression, and inflammation in the body. While moderate alcohol intake (a glass of wine with dinner, etc) is extremely low-risk and even beneficial, excessive and frequent drinking can lead to many health risks including cancer. It’s important to enjoy alcohol in moderation and reach out for help from a loved one or addiction recovery program if your drinking becomes a problem.

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How Does Alcohol Cause Cancer?

Consuming alcohol increases the risk of cancer. While drinking doesn’t guarantee cancer onset, the risk escalates with increased alcohol intake. Cutting down on alcohol intake not only reduces the risk of cancer but also brings about various other health benefits. It lowers the risk of accidents, high blood pressure, and liver disease.

Alcohol can trigger the development of cancer through several mechanisms, including:

  • Cell damage: When alcohol is metabolized, it transforms into acetaldehyde, a chemical that can harm cells and impede their repair processes.
  • Hormonal changes: Alcohol consumption can elevate hormone levels, such as estrogen and insulin. Increased levels of these hormones promote more frequent cell division, increasing the likelihood of cancer development.
  • Cellular changes in the mouth and throat: Alcohol facilitates the absorption of harmful chemicals by cells in the mouth and throat, making cells more prone to damage.

The damaging effects of alcohol on the body are consistent across all types, from beer and wine to distilled spirits. The key to reducing cancer risk lies in minimizing alcohol consumption, regardless of the specific form it takes.

Can You Get Cancer from Drinking Too Much?

Excessive alcohol consumption is linked to an increased risk of developing various types of cancer. The more alcohol you drink, the higher the risk becomes. Understanding the connection between alcohol and cancer is crucial for making informed choices about your drinking habits.

Consuming alcohol, especially in large quantities over an extended period, heightens the risk of cancer. The association between alcohol and cancer extends to various organs, including the mouth, throat, esophagus, colon, rectum, liver, and breast. 

While the risk of cancer rises with increased alcohol intake, moderation plays a significant role. Limiting alcohol consumption can help mitigate this risk, along with offering numerous other health benefits.

Individual susceptibility to the carcinogenic effects of alcohol varies. Factors such as genetics, overall health, and lifestyle choices can influence the extent to which alcohol contributes to cancer risk for each person.

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Get Treatment for Alcohol Addiction at California Detox

If you are addicted to alcohol, we offer a variety of treatment programs at California Detox in Laguna Beach, CA.

Access inpatient or outpatient rehab via our supervised medical detoxification program. The benefits of supervised alcohol detox include continuous care to mitigate complications and FDA-approved medications to streamline the withdrawal process. After one week of detox, you can move to an inpatient program at our luxury beachside facility.

All treatment programs at California Detox offer personalized care that utilizes the following interventions:

Call California Detox at 949.694.8305 when you are ready to combat alcohol addiction.


While moderate alcohol consumption may not significantly increase the risk of cancer, heavy and regular drinking has been linked to an elevated risk of certain cancers, including those of the liver, breast, and esophagus.
Consuming excessive amounts of alcohol over an extended period can heighten the risk of developing cancer, as alcohol is a known carcinogen that can damage cells and promote the formation of tumors, particularly in the liver and digestive tract.


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