HIGHLIGHTING THE LINK BETWEEN ALCOHOL AND CANCER

Scottish Health Action on Alcohol Problems (SHAAP) has long been concerned about the link between alcohol and cancer .

This link between diet and lifestyle and cancer has been further highlighted by the World Health Organisation, warning us that we face a global cancer surge if we do not focus on prevention.

Alcohol use is now recognised as one of six major health risk factors for the UK population (WHO: Global Burden of Disease Study 2010). The link between alcohol and cancer can be clearly seen in the following statistics:

  • Drinking alcohol can increase the risk of cancer of the breast, head and neck, the oesophagus, bowel and liver. 
  • Each year, approximately 6% (or over in 1 in 20) of new cancer cases are estimated to be attributable to alcohol consumption. 
  • Drinking alcohol, even within the limits of current advice on sensible drinking, may increase the risks of alcohol-attributable oral and pharyngeal as well as breast cancer. 
  • For both men and women approximately half of cancers of the oral cavity and pharynx have been estimated to be attributable to alcohol consumption. 
  • It is estimated that at least 700 cases of breast cancer each year may be attributed to drinking alcohol.

Dr Peter Rice, SHAAP Chair commented: “We need to do more to make people aware of the risks associated with alcohol use; even drinking within the current recommended limits may increase your risk of certain types of cancer.”


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