Drinking Alcohol and Gallbladder Cancer Risk: Essential Information

Alcohol and gallbladder cancer are not linked. So drinking alcohol is not a risk factor for developing the disease. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The National Health Service of the UK (NHS). The American Cancer Society. Cancer Research UK. These and other major organizations conclude that alcohol doesn’t increase the risk of gallbladder cancer.

Risk Factors

However, there are a number of factors that do increase the risk of the disease. These risk factors include being

  • Female (more than doubles the risk).
  • Overweight or obese.
  • Over age 65.
  • A smoker.
  • Native American or Mexican American.
  • Chronically infected with salmonella.
  • A worker  in the metal or rubber industry.

Other risk factors for gallbladder cancer include having

  • Gallstones (the most common risk factor).
  • Gallbladder polyps.
  • A family history of gallbladder cancer.
  • A porcelain gallbladder (inside wall covered with calcium deposits).
  • Choledochal cysts.
  • Abnormalities of the bile ducts.
  • Hormone replacement therapy (HAT).
  • A diet high in carbohydrates and low in fiber.

alcohol and gallbladder cancer


Symptoms of gallbladder cancer can include

  • Jaundice (a yellowing of the skin and whites of the eyes).
  • Lumps in the abdomen.
  • Pain above the stomach.
  • Nausea and vomiting.
  • Bloating.
  • Fever.

A person experiencing any of the possible symptoms of gallbladder cancer should see a doctor.

Research shows that drinking alcohol is not a risk factor for developing gallbladder cancer. On the other hand, the moderate consumption of alcohol is associated with better health. It’s also linked to longer life than either abstaining or drinking abusively.

The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA) has defined moderate drinking. It’s 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:

  • 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.

Standard drinks contain equivalent amounts of alcohol.

No form of alcoholic beverage (beer, wine, or spirits) confers greater health or longevity benefits than any other.

Readings on Alcohol and Gallbladder Cancer

Cariati, A., et al. Gallbladder cancers. Euro J Gastro Hepat, 2014, 26(5), 562-569.

Hundal, R., & Shaffer, E. Gallbladder cancer: epidemiology and outcome. Clin Epid,  2014, 6, 99-109.

Liebe, R., et al.  Modifiable factors and genetic predisposition associated with gallbladder cancer. A concise review. J Gastro Liv Dis, 2015, 24(3), 339-348.

Lowenfels, A., et al. Epidemiology of gallbladder cancer. Hepatogastroenterology, 1999, 46(27), 1529-32.

Malka, D., et al. Biliary tract neoplasms. Curr Opin Oncol, 2004, 16(4),  364-71.

Pilgrim, C., et al. Modern perspectives on factors predisposing to the development of gallbladder cancer. HPB, 2013, 15(11), 839-844.

Randi, G., et al. Gallbladder cancer worldwide: geographical distribution and risk factors. International Journal of Cancer, 2006, 118(7), 1591-1602.

Wernberg, J., & Lucarelli, D. Gallbladder cancer. Surg Clin N Am, 2014, 94(2), 343-360.

Note: This website does not make health or medical recommendations about alcohol and gallbladder cancer.