European Alcoho... / Media Centre / Eurocare Newsle... / 2013 / Issue 7, 2013 (... / IN FOCUS / Alcohol causes cancer- health experts call on increased actions  


Alcohol causes cancer- health experts call on increased actions

Health experts from across Europe gathered in Dublin at a Conference to mark the European Week against Cancer (27-31 May).

Health experts highlighted the need for immediate action as alcoholic beverages are group 1 carcinogenic; the cancer they impact on are cancer of oral cavity, pharynx, larynx, oesophagus, liver, colorectum and breast.

10% of cancers in men and 3% in women can be attributed to drinking alcohol, highlighted the health experts. Europe is the world’s heaviest drinking region, with some European countries ranking around 2.5 times above the global average[i].

“On average, European consumers drink 30g of alcohol a day which is 600 times the recommended exposure level set by the European Food Safety Authority for cancer causing agents in food and drinks”, said Professor Anderson from Newcastle University. “Given that there is no level of consumption that is safe as far as cancer is concerned, surely this calls for mandatory warning labels on all cans and bottles stating that alcohol causes fatal cancer”. (Please note that EFSA has never done a risk assessment of alcohol in food and drinks).

Dr Peter Rice, Chair of the Scottish Health Action on Alcohol Problems said: “Some of the most worrying trends in alcohol related harm are on the long term health of middle aged and older people, including increased rates of alcohol related cancers. This is often overlooked because of a focus on youth drinking and public disorder. The contribution of alcohol to a range of cancers needs to be better recognized. There needs to be better public information, more awareness among cancer professionals and effective public health measures to highlight the link and promote action to reduce avoidable illnesses and deaths”.

Mariann Skar, Eurocare Secretary General, commented: “We would like to call on all actors, public and private, to inform consumers about the link between alcohol and cancer through ingredient listing and health warning labels. We all have the right to know not only what is in our drinks but also what side effects they cause to our health”.

The European Week Against Cancer (25 to 31 May), has been re- launched under the leadership of the Association of European Cancer Leagues as one of the activities in the European Partnership for Action Against Cancer. Each year, EWAC will promote the European Code Against Cancer and this year is highlighting the crucial role healthy lifestyles can play in preventing cancer.

Alcohol is one of the world’s leading health concerns; it is one of the 4 major risk factors for developing non communicable diseases (NCDs), such as cancer (which affects 1 in 3 Europeans) and cardiovascular disease. First conclusive links between alcohol and cancer were established back in 1987 yet 25 years later only 36% of EU citizens are sure of this link. The 2010 Eurobarometer report[ii]found that 1 in 5 European citizens do not believe that there is a connection between alcohol and cancer.

To find out more about alcohol and cancer visit:

Read Eurocare Press Release: Alcohol causes cancer- health experts call on increased actions


[i] WHO, Global Health Risks 2009, retrieved from:

[ii] Eurobarometer, 2010, retrieved from: