Avoid or limit alcohol

Drinking alcohol can cause cancer. Reducing alcohol in our communities is an important area of work for the Cancer Society to minimise alcohol-related cancers, experienced more by Māori.

Not drinking alcohol is the best way to prevent many cancers. Not drinking and/or drinking less alcohol throughout life can help protect against at least seven types of cancer including mouth, throat, voice box, oesophagus (food pipe), liver, bowel, breast (in women). Alcohol is high in energy (calories or kilojoules), so not drinking and/or drinking less alcohol can also help reduce weight-related cancers.

There is no safe level of alcohol consumption in relation to cancer. Drinking any regular alcohol can increase cancer risk. The less you drink the lower the cancer risk. Alcohol use can harm people and communities. If you choose to drink alcohol, try reducing your consumption and keep within the Low Risk Drinking Guidelines. 

Alcohol is cheap, widely marketed and easy to get in our neighbourhoods. Poorer suburbs often have more alcohol advertising and outlets selling alcohol than others. The easy access to cheap alcohol affects alcohol-related cancer risk and the higher rates experienced by whānau.  


What we do:

Making alcohol more expensive, less convenient and available would help protect against alcohol-related cancer. The Cancer Society works with other communities and organisations to encourage the government to protect whānau from alcohol-related cancer through:

  • raising awareness of the alcohol-related cancer risks
  • higher alcohol prices
  • stricter alcohol marketing and sponsorship
  • less availability of alcohol outlets and trading hours.

Read our 2019 submission on the WHO Alcohol Global Strategy.

Our work supports the recommendations of current research and experts such as Health Coalition Aotearoa.


What can you do?

For more information and support:

Avoiding alcohol to protect you and your whānau

Cancer Society, Cancer and Alcohol Information Sheet, 2020
Cancer Society, Cancer and Alcohol Infographic, 2014 (being updated 2020)
World Cancer Research Fund recommendations

Avoiding alcohol where we live, work and play

Cancer Society, Alcohol and Cancer Risk Position Paper, 2015 (being updated 2020)
Cancer Council Australia, National Cancer Prevention Policy, 2019