Alcohol is strongly linked with five separate cancers

22 December 2014

That’s the stark new year’s message contained in a new infographic produced by cancer prevention charity, the World Cancer Research Fund.

A mass of global research has highlighted ‘strong evidence’ that alcohol increases breast, bowel, liver, mouth / throat and Oesophageal cancer with further evidence showing a ‘probable’ link to cancer of the colon.

The findings come from the Continuous Update Project (CUP), a global database of cancer prevention research collated by the World Cancer Research Fund in partnership with Imperial College London.

Evidence of the link between alcohol and cancer risk has been accumulating since 2007 when World Cancer Research Fund International first published research about its association with cancers of the mouth, pharynx, larynx and oesophagus.

Additional strong evidence of an association between alcohol and pre and post-menopausal breast cancer was published in 2010, while the association between alcohol and colon cancer was found in 2011. The probable link between alcohol and cancer of the liver was found in 2007.

The CUP reports draw their conclusions on the basis of all the available research, from the CUP database of more than 9,000 separate cancer prevention studies, covering millions of people.

Rachel Thompson, Head of Science at the World Cancer Research Fund said: ‘We do have a lot of evidence about the links between alcohol and the risk of cancer. We know that a significant proportion of cancers could be prevented if people were to moderate their alcoholic consumption.

‘Choosing to drink sensibly and to have a healthy, long-term relationship with the amount of alcohol that you consume can play an important role in reducing your risk of developing certain cancers.

World Cancer Research Fund chose to highlight the links between alcohol and cancer risk in the wake of advice by the Chief Medical Officer last week urging people to cut their alcoholic intake in the post-Christmas period.

A reduced risk of developing cancer is just one of many reasons to cut down on alcohol consumption. Experts advise that people should avoid drinking alcohol as much as possible to help prevent cancer and that men should limit their intake to no more than two drinks a day and no more than one drink a day for women.

Lots of people in the UK drink more than this, but cutting down could make a big difference to long term health and help prevent cancer.