Alcohol consumption and risk of cancer in humans: an overview

Alcohol. Mar-Apr 1995;12(2):87-96. doi: 10.1016/0741-8329(94)00088-3.


Recent epidemiologic data continue to support alcoholic beverage consumption as a cause of cancer of the mouth, pharynx, larynx, esophagus, and liver. The effect of a given alcohol intake on absolute risk of these cancers depends on the prevalence of other risk factors. Whether alcoholic beverage consumption is a cause of cancer of the breast or large bowel is unclear. Alcohol intake appears not to increase risk of cancer of the lung, bladder, prostate, stomach, ovary, endometrium, or of melanoma. Indirect epidemiologic evidence suggests that alcohol may be a weak causal factor for pancreatic cancer. Additional research is needed to determine whether middle-aged women who drink moderately may experience a slight increase in longevity if they decrease alcohol intake. A number of biologically plausible mechanisms exist by which alcohol may cause cancer.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Alcohol Drinking*
  • Ethanol / adverse effects
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Neoplasms / chemically induced*
  • Neoplasms / epidemiology*
  • Risk Factors


  • Ethanol