Alcohol and Bladder Cancer

The consensus of scientific medical opinion is that alcohol does not increase the risk for bladder cancer. To the contrary, it appears that drinking alcohol may reduce the risk of developing the disease.

The National Cancer Institute,1 the American Cancer Society,2 the American Society of Clinical Oncology,3 Cancer Research UK,4 the Mayo Clinic,5 the Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center,6 and other organizations7 have determined that alcohol does not increase the chance of getting bladder cancer based on their analyses of the scientific data.

The research evidence includes a study of over 120,000 subjects in the Netherlands that found no relationship between drinking and bladder cancer,8 a study of high alcohol intake northern Italians that found no association, even at high levels of consumption,9 a study in Massachusetts that found no association, except that beer significantly reduced bladder cancer risk."10 and a population-based case-control study in Los Angeles County that found that "alcohol consumption was strongly associated with reduced risk of bladder cancer." For example, those who consumed more than four drinks per day had a 32% reduced risk of bladder cancer compared to those who did not drink alcoholic beverages.11

It appears that drinking alcohol may reduce the risk of bladder cancer but more research is necessary to be certain.

Symptoms of bladder cancer can include

Having any of these symptoms does not mean that a person has bladder cancer. However, they should be discussed with a doctor.

Drinking alcohol is not a risk factor for developing bladder cancer but it may reduce the risk. In any case, the moderate consumption of alcohol is clearly associated with better health and greater longevity than is either abstaining from alcohol or drinking abusively.

Drinking in moderation has been described by the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA) as a man consuming four drinks on any day and an average of 14 drinks per week. For women, it is consuming three drinks in any one day and an average of seven drinks per week.

A standard alcoholic drink is:

Standard drinks contain equivalent amounts of alcohol. To a breathalyzer, they're all the same.

There is no evidence that any particular form of alcoholic beverage (beer, wine, or distilled spirits) confers greater health benefits than any other.

Note: This website is informational only. It does not provide health or medical advice and none should be inferred.

Readings on Drinking Alcohol and Bladder Cancer:

  • (note: listing does not imply endorsement)
  • Carmack AJK, and Soloway MS. The diagnosis and staging of bladder cancer from RBCs to TURs. Urology, 2006, 67(suppl 3A), 3-10.
  • Gilligan, T.D., et al. Bladder Cancer. In: Kufe, D.W., et al. (eds.) Cancer Medicine 6. Hamilton, Ont: B.C. Decker, 2003. Pp. 1689-1706.
  • Grossman, H.B., et al. Detection of bladder cancer using a point-of-care proteomic assay. JAMA, 2005, 293(7), 810-816.
  • McDougal, W.S., et al. Cancer of the Bladder, Ureter and Renal Pelvis. In: DeVita, V.T., et al., (eds.) Cancer: Principles and Practice of Oncology. 7th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, 2008. Pp. 1358-1384.
  • Montie, J., et al. Carcinoma of the Bladder. In: Abeloff MD, et al. (eds.) Clinical Oncology. Philadelphia, Pa: Elsevier, 2004. Pp. 2059-2084.
  • NCCN Clinical Practice Guidelines in Oncology. Bladder Cancer. V.1.2009. Available at
  • PDQ database. Bladder Cancer: National Cancer Institute. Bethesda, Md. Available at


  • 1. Bladder Cancer: Who's at Risk?
  • 2. What are the Risk Factors for Bladder Cancer?
  • 3. Bladder Cancer Risk Factors.
  • 4. Bladder Cancer Risks and Causes.
  • 5. Bladder Cancer Risk Factors.
  • 6. Bladder Cancer Risk Factors.
  • 7. Bladder Cancer Risk Factors.
  • 8. Zeegers, M., et al. Alcohol Consumption and Bladder Cancer Risk: Results from the Netherlands Cohort Study. American Journal of Epidemiology, 2001, 153(1), 38-41.
  • 9. Pelucchi, C., et al. Alcohol drinking and bladder cancer. Journal of Clinical Epidemiology, 2002, 55(7), 637-641.
  • 10. Djousse, L., et al. Alcohol Consumption and the Risk of Bladder Cancer in the Framingham Heart Study. Journal of the National Cancer Institute 2004 96(18):1397-1400
  • 11. Liang, X., et al. Alcohol consumption and risk of bladder cancer in Los Angeles County. International Journal of Cancer, 2007, 121(4), 839-845. 
  • 12. Bladder Cancer Symptoms.

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