Almost one in five of us don’t believe alcohol cancer link, warns alcohol charity ahead of World Cancer Day (4th February)

Urgent need for health risk labels on alcoholic drinks

Alcohol Action Ireland, the national charity for alcohol-related issues, is urging the incoming Government to introduce explicit health warnings on alcohol products as a matter of urgency.

Speaking ahead of World Cancer Day (4th February 2011), Director Fiona Ryan said: “Consumers have the right to be made aware of the links between alcohol use and the risks to health. There is an undeniable link between alcohol and many cancers – a link that many drinkers are completely oblivious to.

“Ireland has the second highest cancer rate in the world, yet almost one in five of us do not believe there is a connection between the two.”

Ms Ryan added that alcohol is a contributory factor in more than 60 illnesses, including oral cancer, cancer of the larynx, cancer of the oesophagus and liver cancer.

She added: “Women also suffer disproportionally as the risk of breast cancer in women increases the more alcohol she drinks.

“Many women do not know that drinking one standard alcoholic drink a day is associated with a 9% increase in the risk of developing breast cancer, while 3 to 6 drinks a day increases the risk by as much as 41%.  

“The introduction of labelling on alcohol products carrying health warnings, as well as a full list of ingredients and the number of alcohol units in the product, will equip all consumers with essential information about the dangers associated with alcohol use before they drink.  

“The incoming Government should seize the opportunity and act on overdue legislation to put information/health warning labels on all packaged alcohol.   Such a move has popular support – four out of five people in Ireland believe alcoholic products should carry health warnings.

“People want and have the right to make informed choices about their health.   The introduction of alcohol health warning labels will ensure that consumers will no longer be left in the dark about the many health risks associated with alcohol.”

Alcohol and Cancer

”¢  Many cancers, including cancer of the mouth, larynx, oesophagus, liver, colorectum and female breast, have a causal relationship to alcohol consumption  

”¢  Figures compiled by the World Health Organisation (WHO) and World Cancer Research Fund (WCRF) show that Ireland has the second highest cancer rate in the world. Regular alcohol consumption is listed as one of the factors, along with high-fat diets and lack of exercise, contributing to the high cancer rates

”¢  Alcohol and tobacco together are estimated to account for about three-quarters of oral cancer cases in Europe (Cancer Research UK 2009)

”¢  It is estimated that up to 20% of breast cancer cases in the UK can be attributed to alcohol (World Cancer Research Fund 2010)

”¢  The risk of bowel cancer increases by 8% for every two units of alcohol consumed a day


Notes to Editor:

”¢  According to the Eurobarometer   2010, the awareness of the risk of cancers is low in Ireland – 68% agree that consumption of alcohol increases the risk of cancers, while 16% believe there is no risk  

”¢  The Food Safety Authority of Ireland (FSAI) carried out a survey of more than 1,000 people in 2009 on attitudes and behaviours to food and drink labelling, including health warnings on alcohol. The vast majority (81%) want health advice regarding the consumption of alcohol labelled on alcoholic products

For further information contact:
Alcohol Action Ireland Communications Officer Cathy Gray (01) 878 0610/ 087 995 0186