Alcohol and Lung Cancer: Is Drinking a Risk Factor?

Is drinking alcohol a risk factor for lung cancer? That is, does drinking increases the chance of getting the disease? No. Drinking alcohol and lung cancer are not linked or associated.

That’s the conclusion of the National Cancer InstituteAmerican Cancer Society. National Health Service (UK). Cancer Council AustraliaAmerican Society of Clinical Oncology. Canadian Cancer SocietyCancer Research UKAmerican Lung AssociationCancer Society NZ. And the list goes on and on.

Risk Factors

Lung cancer is a major cause of cancer death. That’s true among both men and women. And around the world. Smoking is the the biggest cause. However there are many risk factors.

A lung cancer risk factor is anything that increases the chance of getting the disease. However, having one or more risk factors doesn’t mean that a person will get lung cancer. And some people get the disease without any of these risk factors.

  • Smoking tobacco (by far the leading risk factor).
  • Breathing the tobacco smoke of others (secondhand smoke).
  • Breathing radon (the leading risk factor among non-smokers).
  • Radiation therapy to the lungs.
  • Personal or family history of lung cancer.

Also a risk factor is exposure to any of these.

  • Asbestos.
  • Diesel exhaust.
  • Air pollution.
  • Radioactive ores.
  • Arsenic, beryllium, cadmium, chloromethyl ethers, chromium compounds. Also coal products, mustard gas, nickel compounds, silica, or vinyl chloride.


Unfortunately, symptoms of lung cancer may not appear until the disease is advanced. So it’s important to see a doctor at the first sign of these.

  • A cough that doesn’t go away.
  • Coughing up blood or rust colored material
  • A cough that gets worse
  • Shortness of breath
  • Wheezing
  • Chest pain that is often worse when breathing deeply, coughing, or laughing.
  • Hoarse voice.
  • Loss of appetite.
  • Weight loss.
  • Either continuing or recurring lung-related infections.
  • Feeling tired or weak.

alcohol and lung cancerSome risk factors can’t be changed. But we can change the major risk factor. And that’s to stop smoking.

Fortunately, there’s free help at Smokefree.