Reducing harm caused by alcohol


Alcohol linked with stomach cancer

News that the World Cancer Research Fund (WCRF) has concluded that drinking alcohol to excess is likely to increase the risk of stomach cancer has led to renewed calls from health experts for health warnings on alcohol product labels.

Whilst alcohol has previously been linked with seven types of cancer – including mouth, throat, bowel and breast cancer - this is the first time that the WCRF have concluded a probable link with stomach cancer. This comes only weeks after a Cancer Research UK study indicated that around nine in 10 people were unaware that drinking alcohol increases the risk of cancer.

In the report Diet, nutrition, physical activity and stomach cancer, the WCRF advises that, to protect against cancer, it is best to avoid drinking or limit alcoholic drinks, and follow national guidelines.

Responding to the publication of the report, Professor Sir Ian Gilmore, Chair of the Alcohol Health Alliance, said:

"We were aware that alcohol causes seven types of canceri, and worryingly, this report now demonstrates a link with an eighth – stomach cancer.

"The link between alcohol and cancer is one of the reasons the Chief Medical Officers (CMOs) in the UK revised their alcohol consumption guideline at the beginning of the year. The CMOs recommend that both men and women drink no more than 14 units per week, spread across the week, and that there is no level of drinking which can be considered ‘safe’. This report further demonstrates the need for these new guidelines, and for the public to be informed of the risks of alcohol consumption.

"The public have the right to know about the link between alcohol and cancer, including the link with stomach cancer. The best way to ensure the public has the information they need to make an informed choice about how much they drink is for the Government to mandate health warning levels on all alcoholic products as well as invest in significant mass media campaigns warning of the risks of drinking above the recommended guidelines."