Find Information About:

Drugs & Supplements

Get information and reviews on prescription drugs, over-the-counter medications, vitamins, and supplements. Search by name or medical condition.

Pill Identifier

Pill Identifier

Having trouble identifying your pills?

Enter the shape, color, or imprint of your prescription or OTC drug. Our pill identification tool will display pictures that you can compare to your pill.

Get Started

My Medicine

Save your medicine, check interactions, sign up for FDA alerts, create family profiles and more.

Get Started

WebMD Health Experts and Community

Talk to health experts and other people like you in WebMD's Communities. It's a safe forum where you can create or participate in support groups and discussions about health topics that interest you.

  • Second Opinion

    Second Opinion

    Read expert perspectives on popular health topics.

  • Community


    Connect with people like you, and get expert guidance on living a healthy life.

Got a health question? Get answers provided by leading organizations, doctors, and experts.

Get Answers

Sign up to receive WebMD's award-winning content delivered to your inbox.

Sign Up

Cancer Health Center

Font Size

FAQ: Alcohol and Your Health

Experts answer questions about the impact of drinking on cancer risk, heart health, and more.
WebMD Feature
Reviewed by Louise Chang, MD

When it comes to your health, is it better to drink or not to drink?

It's becoming an even more complicated question, especially in the wake of several recent studies linking even a little drinking of alcohol to a higher risk of cancers.

In one of them, researchers found that women who had as little as one drink a day boosted their risk of cancer of the breast, liver, rectum, throat, mouth, and esophagus. Meanwhile, numerous studies dating back decades show that alcohol and heart health have a positive relationship.

So what's a health-conscious person to do? WebMD asked experts in cardiology, oncology, epidemiology, and internal medicine who are familiar with the latest research to clarify the risks and benefits of alcohol intake.

While the experts disagree on some answers, they do agree that no one who has or had a problem with alcohol dependency should drink, nor should any woman who is pregnant. Here is what else they had to say about alcohol and health:

From a health point of view, what is the best advice you would give about drinking alcohol now?

"There's no one answer; it has to be individualized according to the specific person," says Arthur Klatsky, MD, a former practicing cardiologist and now an investigator for Kaiser Permanente's division of research in Oakland, Calif. He has published numerous studies on alcohol and health, especially heart health.

It's crucial to take into account age, sex, specific medical problems, and family history, Klatsky tells WebMD.

The research on alcohol's effect on health suggests both harm and benefits, says Gary Rogg, MD, an internal medicine specialist at Montefiore Medical Center and assistant professor and assistant director of the department of internal medicine at Albert Einstein College of Medicine, New York. "The studies show links to breast cancer [and] links to liver cancer [with alcohol intake],'' he says, as well as to other cancers. "If you reduce alcohol intake you can reduce the incidence of head and neck cancer and colorectal cancer. Having said that, there seems to be a benefit with [alcohol] and heart disease."

1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5

Today on WebMD

Colorectal cancer cells
New! I AM Not Cancer Facebook Group
Lung cancer xray
See it in pictures, plus read the facts.
sauteed cherry tomatoes
Fight cancer one plate at a time.
Ovarian cancer illustration
Real Cancer Perspectives
Jennifer Goodman Linn self-portrait
what is your cancer risk
colorectal cancer treatment advances
breast cancer overview slideshow
prostate cancer overview
lung cancer overview slideshow
ovarian cancer overview slideshow
Actor Michael Douglas