Our policy on alcohol
Research consistently shows that the more alcohol an individual consumes, the more they are increasing their risk of a range of cancers including breast, liver, bowel and oral cancer. It is estimated that 6% of cancer deaths in the UK are caused by alcohol, which amounts to at least 9000 deaths each year, and 5% of cancers in Europe.
As alcohol has become more affordable and accessible in the UK, so consumption has risen sharply. This is a particularly worrying trend, as a large body of evidence shows that incidences of alcohol-related harm to health within the population are strongly linked to levels of drinking.
Cancer Research UK believes that a comprehensive strategy must be implemented to reduce overall consumption levels of alcohol in the UK and reduce the number of people who die from cancer.
It should include the following:
- Measures to increase the cost of alcohol;
- Further restrictions on the marketing of alcohol;
- Investment in public information campaigns to raise awareness of the long-term health risks associated with drinking alcohol.
Awareness of the link between alcohol and cancer is relatively low outside the health and scientific community. Cancer Research UK believes that individuals should be aware of the range of risks associated with alcohol consumption, and would like cancer to be consistently identified as a potential consequence of alcohol consumption.
Strategies designed to tackle alcohol-related harm have focussed largely on the dangers of binge drinking (the acute health risks and societal impact of alcohol), but little attention is paid to the consequences of sustained moderate levels of drinking over a long period.
Not only should individuals be aware of the risks associated with different levels of drinking, but they should also be aware of what constitutes an appropriate level of consumption to minimise risk. Cancer Research UK believes that the use of guidelines to inform consumers can be helpful, but we are concerned that many individuals are unaware of what these guidelines are and what these mean in terms of different drinks. We urge the Government to make every effort to ensure that there is widespread recognition of drinking information across the UK.
Cancer Research UK has responded to several consultations relating to alcohol policy.
To find out more about our responses to these consultations, please click on one of the links below:
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