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Alcohol and CANCER

22%

aware of alcohol/cancer link in Denmark (unprompted)

40%

of all cancers are preventable

1000

Swedes die from cancer caused by alcohol, yearly

9.7%

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.

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Carina Alm - In contrast to the other risk factors, alcohol is not framed or perceived as only unhealthy

Cancer societies are leading the way making people understand that alcohol also causes cancer. As Carina Alm, a special adviser at the Norwegian Cancer Society, explains, this is a difficult task as people have strong views and believe in different myths about that no ordinary commodity.

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Dr Eeva Ollila - As long as alcohol advertising is allowed, campaigns may be of limited effectiveness

More attention to the negative effects of alcohol in terms of increasing many chronic diseases, including cancer, should be paid, argues dr Eeva Ollila, Senior Medical Officer at the Cancer Society of Finland. 

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Eunan McKinney, Head of Communications and Advocacy at the Alcohol Action Ireland and Lauri Beekmann, NordAN´s executive director are discussing the alcohol and cancer warnings case in Ireland.

Infographic: 

Cancer country profiles 2020 – alcohol and cancer

We have created an infographic showing alcohol´s role in cancer deaths in Nordic and Baltic countries compared to Global and European average. Information is based on WHO Cancer country profiles 2020.

The contribution of a risk factor to a disease or a death is quantified using the population attributable fraction (PAF). PAF is the proportional reduction in population disease or mortality that would occur if exposure to a risk factor were reduced to an alternative ideal exposure scenario (eg. no tobacco use). The term “attributable” has a causal interpretation: PAF is the estimated fraction of all cases that would not have occurred if there had been no exposure.

Reasons

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. 

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