Finding Connections Between Cancer Diagnoses and Drinking Behaviors

Close up shot on a woman's hands, holding a glass of alcohol at a night club

Cancer survivors were more likely to report heavy drinking and more frequent heavy drinking occasions compared to others at the same ages with similar drinking histories. Heavy drinking was defined as having five or more drinks at any one time.

A 2016 study from the National Alcohol Research Center (housed at PHI’s Alcohol Research Group) assessed changes to drinking behaviors as the result of a serious health diagnosis—and how these changes differed based on the type of condition, including hypertension, heart problems, diabetes, injuries, and cancer. including hypertension, heart problems, diabetes, injuries and cancer. Evidence has shown that alcohol consumption increases the risk for specific chronic diseases, and drinking after diagnosis for some types of cancers (in particular breast, head and neck) has been associated with increased mortality.

When racial and ethnic group-specific effects were evaluated, this increased heavy drinking was found to occur among women and Whites, while no increase was found among Blacks or Hispanic men.

Results also suggest that hypertension and having a serious injury did not affect post diagnosis heavy drinking. However, when assessing people diagnosed with heart problems or diabetes, these individuals actually cut back on their heavy drinking.

Learn more about the study.

Work With Us

You change the world. We do the rest. Explore fiscal sponsorship at PHI.

Bring Your Work to PHI

Support Us

Together, we can accelerate our response to public health’s most critical issues.


Find Employment

Begin your career at the Public Health Institute.

See Jobs

Aerial view of wildfire smoke


Wildfires & Extreme Heat: Resources to Protect Yourself & Your Community

Communities across the U.S. and around the world are grappling with dangerous wildfires and extreme heat. These threats disrupt and uproot communities and pose serious risks to environmental and community health—from rising temperatures, unhealthy air pollutants, water contamination and more. Find PHI tools, resources and examples to help communities take action and promote climate safety, equity and resiliency.

Get started

Continue to