What are the ACS guidelines for alcohol intake in cancer survivors?

Updated: Feb 28, 2018
  • Author: Winston W Tan, MD, FACP; more...
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Alcohol intake has both positive and negative health effects. The ACS recommends that clinicians tailor their advice on alcohol consumption to the individual cancer survivor, with consideration of the following:

  • Cancer type and stage
  • Treatment
  • Treatment-related side effects
  • Risk factors for recurrence or new primary cancers
  • Comorbid conditions

Specific considerations include the following:

  • It is reasonable to recommend avoiding or limiting alcohol intake in cancer survivors with mucositis and cancer patients beginning head and neck radiation therapy or chemotherapeutic regimens that put them at risk for mucositis

  • The link between alcohol intake and risk of some primary cancers has been established for cancers of the mouth, pharynx, larynx, esophagus, liver, and breast; and, for some forms of alcoholic beverages, colon cancer; in individuals who have already received a diagnosis of cancer, alcohol intake could also increase their risk of new primary cancers of these sites

  • In patients with head and neck cancer, continued alcohol consumption (as well as smoking) leads to lower survival rates, thus supporting the need to limit alcohol consumption in this population

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