Alcohol Action Ireland welcomes today’s publication of the National Cancer Strategy 2017-2026.

The National Cancer Strategy 2017-2026 will focus on preventing cancer across Ireland’s growing population, aims to diagnose cancer earlier, provide optimal care to patients and maximise the quality of life for who live with cancer.


Commenting on the Strategy, Eunan McKinney, Head of Communications and Advocacy at Alcohol Action Ireland, said:

At Alcohol Action Ireland, we realise the anguish and loss that having cancer can bring but sadly we are also acutely aware of what role alcohol can contribute to developing cancer. The new strategy reaffirms a major pillar of cancer prevention, and we are pleased to note that reduced alcohol intake is central to the necessary modifiable lifestyle. We welcome that prevention measures will be integrated with the overall health and wellbeing initiatives under the Healthy Ireland programme.


In Ireland, alcohol is responsible for one in eight breast cancers. Each year around 900 people in Ireland are diagnosed with alcohol related cancers and regrettably around 500 people die from these diseases. 


In this context, it is very disappointing that Minister Harris has confirmed yet further delay in completing the passage of the Public Health (Alcohol) Bill.’



The launch of the new National Cancer Strategy coincidentally proceeded yesterday’s report from United European Gastroenterology (UEG), which revealed that the average daily intake of alcoholic drinks was ‘moderate’ (between 1 and 4 drinks per day) in all 28 EU states, placed citizens at a heightened risk of both colorectal and oesophageal cancer.


‘Heavy’ drinkers (people that consume 4 or more drinks per day) were found to be at an increased risk of pancreatic, liver and gastric cancer. These three cancers, coupled with colorectal and oesophageal cancer, are the five most common digestive cancers worldwide, causing almost three million deaths per year and contributing to over a third of global cancer deaths. No countries within the EU were found to have ‘light’ alcohol consumption (on average, 1 alcoholic drink or less per day per capita).


Alcohol consumption across the European region is higher than in any other region in the world, with over one fifth of the European population over the age of 15 drinking heavily at least once a week. As a result, the continent suffers from the highest proportion of ill health and premature death directly linked to alcohol.


Despite high levels of consumption throughout Europe, research shows that as many as 90% of people are unaware on the link between alcohol and cancer.


In light of these alarming statistics, tackling the harmful use of alcohol must remain a high priority for Taoiseach Varadkar’s new government and more widely, a main priority for the upcoming Estonian presidency of the Council of the European Union.



For further information, contact: Eunan McKinney, Head of Communications and Advocacy.

Alcohol Action Ireland Tel: 01-8780610 or 087-9950186

Editors Notes:

Minister Harris Simon Harris launches National Cancer Strategy 2017-2026

United European Gastroenterology: Alcohol consumption putting vast majority of Europeans at risk of digestive cancers, report reveals