Drinking Alcohol and Leukemia: Important Facts Everyone Should Know

Alcohol and Leukemia

Alcohol and leukemia. Are they linked? In a word, no. There is medical agreement that alcohol is not a risk factor for leukemia (leukaemia). Organizations have analyzed the medical research on alcohol and leukemia. Consequently, they have concluded that drinking alcohol is not a risk factor for leukemia.


  1. Forms of Leukemia
  2. Not Only among Children
  3. Moderate Drinking
  4. Resources

Among many others, these groups include the National Cancer Institute, the American Cancer Society, the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society.

I. Forms of Leukemia

Specifically, alcohol drinking is not a risk factor for any of the various forms of leukemia:

  • Acute lymphocytic leukemia (ALL). The most common form of leukemia in young children.
  • Acute myleoid leukemia (AML). This form of leukemia occurs most often in adults.
  • B-cell leukemia (B-PLL). This is a more aggressive form of leukemia.
  • Childhood acute lymphoblastic leukemia. This is the most common childhood cancer.
  • Childhood myeloid leukemia. This is the second most common leukemia in children.
  • Chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL). This incurable leukemia occurs most often among those over age 55.
  • Chronic myeloid leukemia (CML). This form of leukemia is rare among children. It occurs with about equal frequency among male and female adults.
  • Eosinophilic leukemia. This form of leukemia is rare.
  • Hairy cell leukemia (HCL). About 80% of HCL victims are adult men.
  • Plasma cell leukemia (PCL). This is a rare leukemia largely found among adult males.
  • T-cell prolymphocytic leukemia (T-PLL). This is a very rare and leukemia affecting adults.

II. Not Only among Children

Leukemia is the most common type of cancer in children. The most common form of the disease in young people is acute lymphoblastic leukemia. It’s also called acute lymphocytic leukemia and acute lymphoid leukemia. However, leukemia also occurs among adults. So it’s not only a “childhood disease.”

Drinking alcohol in moderation is not a risk factor for developing leukemia. On the other hand, the moderate consumption of alcohol is associated with better health and longer life. That’s in comparison to either abstaining from alcohol or drinking abusively.

III. Moderate Drinking

The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA) has described drinking in moderation. It’s a man having four drinks on any day with an average of 14 drinks per week. For a woman, it’s having three drinks in any one day with an average of seven drinks per week.

A standard alcoholic drink is:alcohol and leukemia

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

Standard drinks all contain 0.6 ounce of alcohol. So to a breathalyzer, they’re all the same.

No form of alcohol gives greater health benefits than another.  So beer, wine, and liquor (distilled spirits) are equal in this regard.

IV. Resources: Alcohol and Leukemia

Popular Books on Leukemia

Scientific Readings on Alcohol and Leukemia Risk

  • Brown, L., et al. Alcohol and leukemia. Leukem Res, 1992, 169(10), 979-984.
  • Gorini, G., et al. Alcohol and leukemi risk. Leukem Res, 2007, 31(3), 379-386.
  • Infante-Rivard, C. and El-Zein, M. Parental alcohol consumption and childhood cancers: a review. J Tox Environ, Part B, 2007, 10(1 & 2), 101-129.
  • Pogoda, J., et al. Alcohol consumption and risk of adult-onset acute myeloid leukemia. Leukem Res, 2004, 28(9), 927-931.
  • Rauscher, G., et al. Alcohol intake and incidence of de novo adult acute leukemia. Leukem Res, 2004, 28(12), 1263-1265.
  • Shu, X-O., et al. Parental alcohol consumption and risk of infant leukemia. J Nat Cancer Inst, 1996, 88(1), 24.

References for Alcohol and Leukemia

Note that this website is for information only. Thus, it does not give advice about alcohol and leukemia. For that please see your doctor.