Bad news for Yuletide boozers
If the calories in alcohol are not enough to keep you away from the mulled wine this season the latest health risk warning might.
Cancer chiefs have issued a warning that alcohol is the cause of about 900 cancer cases in Ireland each year and 500 of these patients die from the disease.
Scottish based addiction psychiatrist, Dr Peter Rice delivered the bad news during a visit to Dublin to deliver a talk on the links between alcohol and cancer.
He claims that the majority of Irish drinkers are unaware of the links between their favourite tipple and cancer.
Dr Peter Rice said: “My home country of Scotland is similar to Ireland when it comes to the amount of alcohol we drink.
“But the level of awareness of the cancer risks associated with alcohol is comparatively low – according to EU research, just under seven in ten Irish people know that alcohol causes cancer, while almost all (97 per cent) knew of its links to liver disease.
“This is despite widespread global research which places alcohol in the same group as smoking, obesity, physical inactivity and UV radiation when it comes to dominant lifestyle risks for cancer.”
But he did offer some light to seasonal revellers.
“The good news is that even a small decrease in alcohol consumption can reduce your risk of developing cancer,” Dr Rice said.
Dr Rice spoke at the Irish Cancer Society event ‘Decoding Cancer – Alcohol and Cancer: The Sobering Facts’.
Alcohol is a known cause of seven types of cancer – mouth, throat (pharynx), voice box (larynx), gullet (oesophagus), breast, bowel and liver.
Overall, 10 per cent of all cancers in men and 3 per cent in women are caused by alcohol.
While there are no ‘safe’ alcohol limits, the more you drink, the greater the risk of cancer.
The National Cancer Control Programme claims over half of alcohol related cancers in Ireland are preventable by adhering to low-risk weekly guidelines for alcohol consumption – 11 standard drinks for women and 17 for men.
Dr Rice is Chair of the Executive Committee of Scottish Health Action on Alcohol Problems (SHAAP).
Head of Research at the Irish Cancer Society, Dr Robert O’Connor, added:
“One in five of all alcohol-related deaths are due to cancer. But our consumption of alcohol is increasing – in 2010 it was 145 per cent higher than the average amount drank in 1960.
“Irish people drink more than the European average, which stands at 11 litres of pure alcohol per person per year.”
“Dr Rice’s experience and knowledge around alcohol is invaluable, so it is hugely important that we acknowledge his work and learn from the steps that have been taken in Scotland to address this issue.”