World Cancer Day: know the facts – tobacco and alcohol both cause cancer

“On World Cancer Day, marked on 4 February, WHO/Europe is focusing on the need to minimize exposure to both alcohol and tobacco. While many people understand the risks of developing cancer associated with smoking, many remain unaware that alcohol also causes cancer.

“This is not only a problem of public awareness, it is a sign that policies to prevent cancer across the WHO European Region can and should be bolder,” highlights Dr Nino Berdzuli, Director of the Division of Country Health Programmes.

Around 40% of cancers can be prevented, and public awareness of these 2 modifiable risk factors – tobacco and alcohol – needs to increase. Information about the health hazards linked to drinking alcohol and smoking should be combined with effective WHO-recommended health policies, which limit exposure to health-harming products as well as their affordability.

Alcohol and cancer: no safe level
According to a recent factsheet produced by the WHO European Office for the Prevention and Control of Noncommunicable Diseases, in 2018 alone, around 180 000 cases of cancer and 92 000 cancer deaths were causally linked to alcohol in the Region.

There is no safe level of alcohol consumption – regardless of the type of beverage, its quality or price – because the primary compound that can cause cancer is alcohol itself.

Almost 11% of all cancer cases causally linked to alcohol across the Region in 2018 were due to drinking no more than 1 large bottle of beer (500 ml), 2 glasses of wine (200 ml) or 60 ml of spirits per day. Cancer risks start from the first gram of alcohol consumed and increase with the amount that people drink.”

Find more from WHO Europe (February 2021)

On this World Cancer Day, take some time to review the special alcohol and cancer category of this website. We have currently 140 posts with different campaigns, materials, videos and infographics.

Visit also a new website, done in cooperation between Nordic Alcohol and Drug Policy Network, European Alcohol Policy Alliance Eurocare and European Cancer Leagues.

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