Alcohol FAQs

Is it better to drink with meals or between meals? 

Some research shows that drinking in between meals is more risky than drinking at meal times. We do not know if this is because people drink less overall when they eat, or whether food dilutes the harmful effects of alcohol.

What about smoking and drinking? 

For some cancers, the combined effects of drinking alcohol and smoking tobacco significantly exceeds the cancer risk of either factor alone.  To explain;

  • Smokers (of tobacco) have seven times greater the risk of developing mouth and throat cancers than those that don’t smoke.
  • Alcohol drinkers have six times greater the risk of developing mouth and throat cancers than those that don’t drink.
  • Those who regularly drink and smoke heavily (consuming more than four alcoholic drinks and forty or more cigarettes every day) have a 35 times higher risk of developing mouth and throat cancers.

What about alcohol and heart disease?

In the past, researchers believed red wine might have had health benefits for heart disease, but this does not appear to be the case.

There are a number of things you can do to reduce your risk of heart disease as well as cancer, such as not smoking, healthy eating, being physically active and maintaining a healthy body weight. It is important to look at the risks and benefits of drinking alcohol for you personally.  Neither the National Heart Foundation of Australia nor the World Health Organisation recommends consuming alcohol (including red wine) to prevent cardiovascular disease.

Is alcohol fattening? 

Alcohol contains a lot of kilojoules (or calories) so it can easily contribute to weight gain. Being overweight is also a risk factor for some cancers.

Can I drink more on social occasions? 

Drinking large amounts of alcohol at once (known as binge-drinking) is not recommended.  As well as alcohol being a cause of cancer the risk of alcohol-related injury increases with the amount consumed.

Additional Reading