Could moderate drinking be putting you at risk of mouth or throat cancer?

Drinking a few glasses of wine each night isn’t harmful, right? The Cancer Council and the University of Victoria have conducted a study that tracked the drinking habits of 41,000 adults since the early 1990s and the findings are alarming.

We all know that alcohol can cause all sorts of cancers and lead to death but many of us assume that this is only relevant to heavy drinkers.

New data reveals the majority of us actually need to limit our alcohol consumption. The Cancer Council is warning Australians to stick to a two-drink maximum if they want to reduce their cancer risk. It has not been until more recently that research and information about the risks of alcohol have been shared; growing up most of us did not understand the risks of a lifetime of drinking, especially the associated link to cancer.

So how much is too much? The results indicate that four or more standard alcoholic drinks per day doubled the risk of mouth and throat cancer, compared to those who didn’t drink at all. Therefore even drinking in moderation can increase the likelihood of developing cancer.

In a separate poll, many Victorians did not even know what constituted one standard drink or how many drinks were in a bottle of wine. This lack of knowledge is leading to underestimated drinking habits for all generations as there is an unknown about what is considered acceptable daily alcohol consumption. If people don’t understand what is in one drink, how are they supposed to know what is a moderate or high level of consumption?

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For instance, drinking a moscato (low in alcohol) is very different than drinking a cocktail (high in alcohol). That being said, the Cancer Council does reaffirm that it doesn’t matter what alcohol you drink, all types of alcohol can increase your risk of cancer.

Hopefully this new data and guideline of two standard drinks will help to limit alcohol consumption and therefore prevent a number of cancers and deaths.


According to the Cancer Council, the follow is what is considered one standard drink:

  • 100ml (1 bottle = 7 standard drinks)
  • 285ml (1 middy) of full strength beer
  • 425ml (1 schooner) of low alcohol beer
  • 30ml (1 nip) spirits
  • 60ml (2 nips) of sherry
  • 220-250ml alcoholic soda (2/3 bottle)
  • Cocktails may contain more than three standard drinks!
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Were you aware of how much is standard drink and that moderate drinking can be a health risk?