Help us to stop bowel cancer

Alcohol and smoking

Alcohol is linked to seven types of cancer including bowel cancer. It is estimated that about 11 out of 100 bowel cancers (11%) in the UK are linked to alcohol.

The World Cancer Research Fund recommends avoiding alcohol as much as possible to help prevent cancer.

In January 2016, after looking at all the evidence, the government introduced new guidelines on alcohol consumption. To keep health risks from alcohol as low as possible, both men and women should drink no more than 14 units of alcohol a week. If you do drink, try to spread it out over the week. Also cutting down could make a real difference.

What is a unit of alcohol?

  • A pint of average strength beer or lager = 2.8 units
  • One standard glass of wine (175ml) = 2.3 units
  • One measure of spirits = 1 unit 


An estimated 8% of bowel cancer cases in the UK are linked to tobacco smoking. Bowel cancer risk increases with the number of cigarettes smoked per day.

We know that smokers are more likely to develop polyps (non-cancerous growths in the bowel) which could turn into cancer if not discovered.

If you want to give up smoking, your GP can help, advise and refer you to an NHS Stop Smoking service. These services offer the best support for people who want to give up smoking.


Updated March 2016. Due for review March 2019