Cancer and Alcohol: Canada’s Low Risk Drinking Guidelines


Last week, the Canadian Centre on Substance Abuse (CCSA) released Cancer and Alcohol, the first in a series of summaries of topics covered in Canada’s Low-Risk Alcohol Drinking Guidelines. These summaries were created to address specific health concerns or to discuss how to apply the low risk drinking guidelines for certain populations.

The CCSA will release the next summary topic, Youth and Alcohol, on Friday, January 31, 2014, which will address why youth up to the age of 25 should minimize their alcohol consumption. The following Friday, February 7, they will release a Women and Alcohol summary that will address the unique effects of alcohol on females and why the low-risk drinking limits differ for women and men.

The Cancer and Alcohol summary was developed on behalf of the National Alcohol Strategy Advisory Committee (NASAC) in collaboration with the Canadian Cancer Society. It highlights how drinking an average of one drink a day can increase the risk of developing certain types of cancers.

While the Low Risk Drinking Guidelines overall suggest that women consume no more than 10 drinks a week and no more than two drinks a day most days in order to reduce long-term risks for multiple chronic illnesses, women who are interested in reducing their risk of developing cancer should drink less than one drink a day.

That said, even small amounts of alcohol increase the risk of certain cancers, so the less alcohol you drink, the more you reduce the risk of developing cancer. Any type of alcohol — beer, wine or spirits — increases the risk of cancer.

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All the summaries are available from the CCSA website at this location: The guidelines and summaries are available in French.

For more on Canada’s Low Risk Drinking Guidelines, see previous posts: