Alcohol and Penile (Penis) Cancer

Drinking alcohol is not a risk factor for penile cancer. After analyzing the research evidence, that is the conclusion of the National Cancer Institute,1 Cancer Research UK,2 the American Cancer Society,3 the American Society of Clinical Oncology,4 and other medical organizations.5 6

Anything that increases the chance of getting a disease is called a risk factor. Having risk factors does not mean that a person will get the disease and not having risk factors doesn't mean that the person will not get the disease.

Risk factors for penile cancer have been identified as

  • Age (especially being age 60 or older)
  • Smoking
  • Lack of circumcision at birth
  • Phimosis or difficulty in pulling foreskin back from head of penis
  • Using tobacco products
  • Having HIV/AIDS infection
  • Having papillomavirus (HPV). This refers to a group of over 100 related viruses.
  • Having multiple sexual partners
  • Having a sex partner who has had sex with many other partners
  • Not using a condom
  • Having had sex at an early age
  • Having poor personal hygiene by not cleaning underneath the intact foreskin.
  • Having smegma, a thick substance that can accumulate under the foreskin and is caused by dead skin cells, bacteria, and oily secretions from the skin.
  • Receiving psoriasis treatment with the drug psoralen combined with ultraviolet (UV) light.7 8 9

Possible symptoms of penile cancer include sores, discharge, bleeding, irritation, redness or a lump on the penis. Other conditions can cause these symptoms, so a physician should be consulted.10

Drinking alcohol is not a risk factor for developing penile cancer. On the other hand, the moderate consumption of alcohol is 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.

A standard alcoholic drink is:

  • A 12-ounce can or bottle of regular beer
  • A 5-ounce glass of dinner wine
  • A shot (one and one-half ounces) of 80 proof liquor or spirits such as vodka, tequila, or rum either straight or in a mixed drink.

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 provides no recommendations for drinking alcohol and penile cancer or for any other health or medical matter and none should be inferred.


  • 1. Penile Cancer.
  • 2. Risks and Causes of Penile Cancer
  • 3. What are the Risk Factors for Penile Cancer?
  • 4. Penile Cancer Risk Factors and Prevention.
  • 5. AmI at Risk for Penile Cancer?
  • 6. Penile Cancer Risk Factors.
  • 7. Penile Cancer.
  • 8. Penile Cancer Risk Factors and Prevention.
  • 9. What are the Risk Factors for Penile Cancer?
  • 10. Penile Cancer.

Readings on Penile Cancer:

  • (note: listing does not imply endorsement)
  • Culkin, D.J., et al. Cancer of the penis. In: Abeloff, M.D., et al. (eds.) Abeloff's Clinical Oncology. 4th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier, 2008. Pp. 1701-1712.
  • Daling, J.R.,et al. Penile cancer: Importance of circumcision, human papillomavirus and smoking in in situ and invasive disease. International Journal of Cancer, 2005, 116, 606-616.
  • Kayes, O., et al. Molecular and genetic pathways in penile cancer. Lancet Oncology, 2007, 8, 420-429.
  • Lynch, D.F. Tumors of the penis and urethra. In: Kufe, D.W., et al. (eds.) Cancer Medicine, 7th ed. Hamilton, Ontario: B.C. Decker; 2006. Pp. 1462-1467.
  • Madsen, B.S., et al. Risk factors for squamous cell carcinoma of the penis: population-based case-control study in Denmark, Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers, and Prevention, 2008, 17(10), 2683-2691.
  • Misra, S., et al. Penile carcinoma: a challenge for the developing world. Lancet Oncology, 2004, 5, 240-247.
  • Razdan, S., and Gomella, L.G. Cancer of the urethra and penis. In: DeVita, V.T., et al. (eds.) Cancer: Principles and Practice of Oncology. 8th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, 2008. Pp.1452-1462.
  • Ribentrop, J.M., et al. Squamous cell carcinoma of the penis. Cancer, 2004,101,1357-1363.