There is no clear "safe limit" of alcohol intake to prevent an increased risk of cancer. Alcoholic beverages have been designated as carcinogenic to humans by the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC).

Cancer Care Ontario estimates between 1,000 and 3,000 cases of cancer diagnosed (2% to 4% of all new cancer cases) can be attributable to alcohol consumption1.

Drinking alcoholic beverages can increase the risks of cancers of the oral cavity and pharynx, esophagus, larynx and liver. It is also a cause of colorectal and breast cancers, two of the three leading causes of cancer deaths in Ontario.

Healthcare providers have the opportunity to counsel patients such that if they must drink alcohol to be aware of the recommendation for cancer prevention (ie: less than two drinks per day for men and less than one drink per day for women)2.

General Information

Cancer Risk Factors in Ontario: Alcoholic Drinks 


  1. Cancer Care Ontario. Cancer Risk Factors in Ontario: Evidence Summary. Toronto, Canada, 2013
  2. Cancer Care Ontario, Ontario Agency for Health Protection and Promotion (Public Health Ontario). Taking action to prevent chronic disease: recommendations for a healthier Ontario. Toronto; Queen's Printer for Ontario; 2012