In a survey of US adults, most were not aware that drinking alcoholic beverages can increase the risk of cancer. 

This was particularly true among survey respondents who believed alcohol use can reduce the risk of heart disease. The survey results were published in Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers & Prevention.

The researchers conducted the survey to “estimate awareness of the alcohol-cancer link by beverage type and to examine the relationship between this awareness and concomitant beliefs about alcohol and heart disease risk.” 

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The team analyzed data from 3865 adults who completed the National Cancer Institute’s Health Information National Trends Survey 5 Cycle 4, which was administered from February through June 2020.

More than 50% of respondents said they did not know how alcohol may affect cancer risk. Less than 20% said that wine (17.6%), beer (18.8%), and liquor (15.5%) have no effect on cancer risk. 

Less than a third of respondents were aware that wine (20.3%), beer (24.9%), and liquor (31.2%) increase the risk of cancer. And the remaining respondents said wine (10.3%), beer (2.2%), and liquor (1.7%) decrease the risk of cancer.

Respondents who were aware of the link between heart disease and alcohol were more likely to be aware of the link between alcohol and cancer. More than half of these respondents were aware that wine (56.0%), beer (53.6%), and liquor (61.1%) increase the risk of cancer.

Respondents were similarly aware of the association between alcohol and cancer risk whether they described themselves as a nondrinker, drinker, or heavier drinker. 

Black respondents were significantly less likely than White respondents to be aware of the risk of cancer with consumption of wine (12.2% vs 21.5%; P =.003), beer (16.8% vs 26.2%; P =.007), and liquor (23.5% vs 31.4%; P =.005). 

“These findings underscore the need to educate US adults about the alcohol-cancer link, including raising awareness that drinking all alcoholic beverage types increases cancer risk,” the researchers concluded.


Seidenberg AB, Wiseman KP, Klein WMP. Do beliefs about alcohol and cancer risk vary by alcoholic beverage type and heart disease risk beliefs? Cancer Epidemiol Biomarkers Prev. Published online December 1, 2022. doi:10.1158/1055-9965.EPI-22-0420