Date PostedMarch 29, 2014

Alcohol Abuse Linked to Thousands of Cancer Deaths Annually

Leading Australian health experts are calling for alcoholic drinks to carry cancer warning signs on the packaging, like cigarette packaging does. They also want alcoholic drinks to be taxed according to the danger they pose to health.

The call from medical experts comes following the release of a new World Cancer Report that was released by the World Health Organisations. The report indicates that alcohol may be responsible for as many as 5.4 per cent of all cancer deaths.

According to the report alcohol may also be the cause of more than one in four mouth cancer fatalities and one in five deaths from cancer of the oesophagus.

Women in particular are being warned to drink moderately because alcohol has been linked to nearly one in ten deaths from breast cancer.

The research shows that women who drink every day actually increase their risk of breast cancer by 6 per cent, according to a spokesperson from the Cancer Council Australia, Terry Slevin. He warns that the more alcohol women drink, the greater their risk of breast cancer.

A Professor from the University of NSW had this to say about the need to act urgently,

“We need to make the community aware, possibly even up to and including warning labels, if not a public health campaign,” said Professor Bernard Stewart, from the University of NSW.

“The availability and price of alcohol has to be determined not only in respect of alcohol being something people enjoy but also that this same product carries with it a burden of disease if used improperly,” he told an Australian Science media briefing on Monday.


The push for the cancer warnings on alcohol packaging has been backed by the Foundation for Alcohol Research and Education (FARE). The article on went on to quote Michael Thorn the chief of FARE as saying,

“Our polling has shown that Australians are largely unaware of the link between alcohol and cancer, with only 24 per cent aware of the link between alcohol and mouth and throat cancers and 11 per cent aware of the link with breast cancer,” says FARE chief Michael Thorn.


The article went on to state that the experts aren’t proposing graphic images of diseased organs to scare off customers (that appear on cigarettes) but rather are calling for a textual warning of the cancer risks of drinking.

The alcohol industry has reacted in response to the calls from experts. One alcohol industry spokesperson was quoted as saying,

Brewer’s Association of Australia and New Zealand spokesman Denita Wawn says her organisation does not believe labelling is the answer to educating people about the risks of alcohol consumption.

“Labelling has a limited role in comparison to the role played by advice by medical experts as a general rule,” she said.


As Australians we should protect our health by limiting the amount of alcohol we consume especially when you consider that Oz has the 3rd highest incidence of cancer in the world, exceeded only by Denmark and France. The good news for Australians however is that we do have some of the highest cancer survival rates in the world.

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Peter Cutforth is a Director at Urban E-Learning, a global elearning, OH&S training, and web strategy firm based in Little Edward St. Spring Hill, Brisbane, Australia. Urban E-Learning provides compliance related online , Distance and Face-to-Face training products in the construction, hospitality and heavy vehicle transport sectors, to name a few. Examples include the White Card Construction induction course and the RSA - Responsible Service of Alcohol course. Peter's interests extend to training, safety and compliance, online marketing, and Mobile Apps.

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