New report shows cancer one of the leading causes of alcohol-related deaths

Thursday 31 July, 2014

A new report showing that cancer was one of the leading causes of alcohol-related deaths in Australia should help raise public awareness of alcohol as a significant cancer risk factor, Cancer Council Australia said today.

CEO Professor Ian Olver said the new report, Alcohol's burden of disease in Australia, published by the Foundation for Alcohol Research and Education and VicHealth, added to the growing evidence base that showed alcohol consumption was one of the most preventable causes of cancer.

"We have long known that alcohol causes as many cancer deaths in Australia as melanoma, yet the level of public awareness is low," Professor Olver said. "Australians who choose to drink should try to stay within the National Health and Medical Research Council guidelines and have no more than two standard drinks a day.

"There are plenty of good reasons to moderate consumption – and preventing cancer is one of the most significant of them.

"Today's report adds a new and alarming perspective by calculating that cancer is the cause 25% of all alcohol-related deaths in Australian men and 31% of alcohol-related deaths in Australian women – making cancer one of the leading causes of all alcohol-related deaths.

"The number of alcohol related cancer deaths is similar to the number of alcohol-related deaths attributed to injury. When people contemplate the risks they take when consuming alcohol, they need to think about cancer, as well as all the other potential causes of death that are attributable to alcohol consumption."

There is convincing evidence that alcohol causes cancers of the breast, mouth, pharynx, larynx and oesophagus in men and women and bowel cancer in men. Alcohol is also a probable cause of bowel cancer in women and liver cancer in men and women.

Updated: 31 Jul, 2014