Call to tackle alcohol-related cancer

  • Deborah Condon

The number of new cases of cancer in Ireland could be significantly reduced if people drank less alcohol, according to Alcohol Action Ireland (AAI).

The national charity for alcohol-related issues made its comments to coincide with European Week Against Cancer, which runs from May 25-31.

"One in 10 cancers in men and one in 33 cancers in women is caused by alcohol. Drinking more than two drinks a day for men and one for women causes the majority of cancer cases linked to alcohol," explained AAI director, Fiona Ryan.

The charity pointed out that alcohol can increase the risk of a number of cancers, including cancer of the mouth, larynx, oesophagus, liver, colorectum and breast.

In fact, research has shown that drinking one standard alcoholic drink a day increases the risk of a women developing breast cancer by 9%, while drinking three to six standard drinks a day increases the risk by 41%. Meanwhile cancer of the liver currently has the highest rate of increase of all cancer types in Ireland.

Ms Ryan noted that according to the World Health Organisation (WHO), pricing is one of the key ways to reduce levels of alcohol consumption in a country.

"Unfortunately, previous successive governments appeared to be determined not to initiate the one measure that could have a real impact on reducing our damaging levels of drinking - pricing. In December 2009, the Government cut excise duty by 20% and our national consumption rates jumped by 6% the following year," she said.

The charity warned that today, over half of all Irish drinkers are drinking in a way which damages their health - that is seven in 10 men and four in 10 women who drink.

It said that the new government has an opportunity to make a difference and introduce measures that will have a real impact on these damaging levels of alcohol consumption.

"The introduction of minimum pricing, a floor price below which alcohol cannot be sold, will go some way to reducing the overall amount we drink. If we're serious about tackling alcohol-related cancer, then we need to get serious about tackling our drinking," Ms Ryan added.


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