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Alcohol and CANCER


WHO Europe Fact sheet - 5 facts about alcohol and cancer

This factsheet provides five important facts for policy makers, health professionals and the general public about the links between alcohol consumption and a range of cancer types.

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aware of alcohol/cancer link in Denmark (unprompted)


of all cancers are preventable


Swedes die from cancer caused by alcohol, yearly


Cancer deaths by alcohol in Lithuania

Alcohol and cancer awareness in Nordic countries

Despite the well-established contribution of alcohol to the burden of cancer, public knowledge of the relationship between alcohol and cancer is low across the world, including Nordic countries.

When we talk about alcohol increasing the risk of cancer, there’s a little more to it than that. That’s because, as the latest research highlights, it’s one of the chemicals alcohol gets broken down into that seems to be one of the main culprits.

Alcohol is broken down via a strict process and converted into energy. And it’s acetaldehyde, at the centre of this chain, that’s the weakest link. If acetaldehyde isn’t broken down further it builds up in cells, where it damages DNA in a way that could cause cancer.


Alcohol and cancer: This is how booze damages DNA inside cells

By Aine McCarthy

Cancer Research UK

Alcohol and Cancer webinar - What everyone needs to know

May 25, 2021
Eurocare, ECL, WHO Europe

WHO Candid Conversations - Aron Anderson and Dr Carina Ferreira-Borges

"Alcohol is a significant cause for cancer and it can start from first drinking. So basically the risk for developing cancer can start at very low levels and increases substantially the more alcohol is consumed."


Daniel Jones - Warnings needed to be seen to be effective

I think the primary role of specific health warnings (e.g. 'alcohol causes mouth cancer') would be informative until the point that public awareness is large enough for them to become reminders, says Daniel Jones, from the Stirling University’s Institute for Social Marketing and Health (ISMH). 



for low awareness

Alcohol is classified by the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) as a Group 1 carcinogen. And we have known it more than 30 years now. The overall awareness of that fact is worryingly low, everywhere. 

Even though many cancer organisations and alcohol policy and harm organisations have done a lot to increase that knowledge, for some reason, it doesn’t seem to work very well.