Researchers at Boston University have found that up to 3.5 percent of all deaths from cancer are caused by alcohol, or 8,200 to 21,300 people. Few people realize the health risks alcohol poses and its potential to cause cancer.

Breast cancer accounted for the majority of alcohol-attributable female cancer deaths (56 to 66 percent), whereas in men, upper airway and esophageal cancer deaths were more common (53 to 71 percent).

The report said that even "moderate consumption" of alcohol was linked to one third of all cancer cases and all alcohol related death on average reduced someone's life by 18 years.

In 1988, the World Health organization classified alcohol as one of the most carcinogenic substances, having been proved to be linked to cancers of the mouth, throat and liver.

In the present study around 26 to 35 percent of alcohol-attributable cancer deaths were due to daily consumption of up to 20 grams of alcohol (≤ 1.5 drinks) which is (according to the CDC website):

  • Around 17 Ounces of beer
  • 11.2 ounces of malt liquor
  • 7 ounces of wine
  • 2.1 ounces of distilled liquor (gin, rum, vodka or whiskey at 80-proof)

They conclude the study by saying that "Alcohol remains a major contributor to cancer mortality and YPLL [years of potential life lost]. Higher consumption increases risk but there is no safe threshold for alcohol and cancer risk. Reducing alcohol consumption is an important and underemphasized cancer prevention strategy." 

The report published in the American Journal of Publish Health can be found here