Alcohol and Bowel Cancer

Some people do not drink, but for many, alcohol is part of their social lives. As with most activities, this carries a degree of risk, including an increased risk of developing bowel cancer. The UK Chief Medical Officers have developed guidelines to enable people to make informed choices about their alcohol intake.

How much should I drink?

There is no level of regular drinking that can be considered as completely safe in relation to some cancers. You can reduce these risks by drinking less than the guidelines below or by not drinking at all.


If you drink alcohol regularly, guidelines from the UK Chief Medical Officers suggest that both men and women can keep long term health risks – including the risk of developing bowel cancer – low by drinking no more than 14 units a week on a regular basis and by spreading drinking evenly over three or more days.


14 units equates to

  • six pints of 4% beer or
  • six 175ml glasses of 13% wine or
  • 14 25ml glasses of 40% spirits.


Alcoholic drinks can be high in calories – cutting down on the amount you drink could help you to lose weight or maintain a healthy weight, and in turn help to further reduce your cancer risk.


There is evidence that having some alcohol free days each week can help people who
wish to drink less.


Find out more about ways to prevent bowel cancer.

Find out more about cancer prevention and alcohol (external site).