Health Topics


Alcohol is the most commonly used substance in Hamilton. Many Hamiltonians who drink alcohol do so within moderation, unfortunately many others drink alcohol at excessive levels. Alcohol use is linked to over 200 types of diseases and injures including long terms harms such as cancer, liver disease, and cardiovascular disease and short term harms such as motor vehicle accidents and violence. Your risk is affected by:

  • How much you drink
  • How often you drink
  • The way you drink (i.e. binge drinking)
  • Other things you do, like smoking

The Canadian Low Risk Alcohol Drinking Guidelines were developed to promote moderate alcohol consumption practices aimed at reducing your risk of harms associated with alcohol use. For more information refer to the drop-down link below.

Alcohol & Youth

Alcohol is the drug most often used by students in grades 7 to 12. Children and youth are more likely to be harmed by drinking alcohol. The earlier youth initiate alcohol use, the more likely they are to drink excessively, drink regularly, and experience alcohol related harm.

Learn more about alcohol’s effect on youth and related supports

Community Alcohol Report

The community alcohol report was developed to help increase awareness of the impacts of alcohol in our community.  Read the full report (PDF, 4.9 MB).

View the Impacts of Alcohol Use in Hamilton infographic (PDF, 89 KB)

The Canadian Low-Risk Alcohol Drinking Guidelines (LRADGs) can help you lower your risk of short- and long-term harms from drinking alcohol. Short-term harms are injuries and illnesses from drinking too much alcohol at once, also known as binge drinking. Long-term harms are those that happen after drinking alcohol for many years. Recommendations for low-risk drinking:

female symbolWomen

  • No more than 10 standard drinks per week
  • No more than 2 standard drinks on most days
  • Plan non-drinking days every week
  • On Special Occasions no more than 3 standard drinks on any single occasion

Male symbolMen

  • No more than 15 standard drinks per week
  • No more than 3 standard drinks on most days
  • Plan non-drinking days every week
  • On Special Occasions no more than 4 standard drinks on any single occasion

Standard drink

  • Beer, Ciders & Coolers - 341 ml (12 oz.) with 5% alcohol
  • Wine - 142 ml (5 oz.) with 12% alcohol
  • Distilled Alcohol - 43 ml (1.5 oz.) with 40% alcohol

Alcoholic drinks illustrations

The guidelines also tell you when you should not drink any alcohol, like when driving, pregnant, or when you have mental or physical health problems. See Canada’s Low Risk Drinking Guidelines.

Alcohol is one of the top three causes of deaths from cancer in the world.1 In Ontario, 2-4% of new cancer cases in 2010 were linked to alcohol use. Drinking any type of alcohol raises your risk of these cancers:

  • Mouth
  • Pharynx (Throat)
  • Larynx (Voice Box)
  • Esophagus (Food Pipe)
  • Breast
  • Liver
  • Colon and rectum (Intestines).3

The more alcohol you drink the higher your risk of cancer.1 Even small amounts of alcohol increase your risk, and there is no known “safe” limit to prevent cancer.2

To lower your risk of cancer, the Canadian Cancer Society recommends:

  • Less than one standard drink per day for women, or
  • Less than two standard drinks per day for men.1*

A standard drink is:

  • 341ml (12 oz.) of Beer, Cider or Cooler (5% alcohol content)
  • 142 ml (5 oz.) of Wine (12% alcohol content)
  • 43 ml (1.5 oz.) of Distilled Alcohol (40% alcohol content).3

Learn more about the links between Alcohol and Cancer at

*Note: These guidelines are lower than Canada’s Low Risk Alcohol Drinking Guidelines (LRADGs). The LRADGs tell you how to lower your long-term health risks for multiple chronic diseases, while the Canadian Cancer Society recommendations are only for lowering your risk of cancer.3


1. Canadian Cancer Society. (2016). The truth about alcohol. Retrieved from:

2. Cancer Care Ontario. (2014). Cancer Risk Factors in Ontario:
Alcohol. Toronto, ON: Queen’s Printer for Ontario.

3. Canadian Centre on Substance Abuse. (2014). Cancer and alcohol. Retrieved from: