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New campaign highlights the deadly link between alcohol and cancer

14.11.2023 - In the North East of England, a stark reality is unfolding: nearly 500 adults are dying annually from cancers attributable to alcohol consumption. This alarming statistic forms the basis of a new campaign, "Alcohol is Toxic", launched by Balance in collaboration with Cancer Research UK and local authorities. The campaign seeks to raise awareness that alcohol is a direct cause of seven types of cancer, including bowel, breast, liver, throat, and mouth cancers.

Despite the severity of this issue, awareness remains low. Only one in three people in the North East are cognizant of the carcinogenic effects of alcohol. This lack of awareness is particularly concerning given that nearly half of the adults in the region consume alcohol in excess of the recommended limits set by the Chief Medical Officers, which is no more than 14 units per week.

The "Alcohol is Toxic" campaign is unique in its approach. It graphically traces the journey of alcohol through the human body, illustrating how it mutates cells and can lead to tumor formation. This creative depiction, developed with input from medical professionals, aims to visually communicate the evidential link between alcohol consumption and cancer development.

Statistics from 2019 reinforce the gravity of the situation: 483 deaths in the North East were directly linked to alcohol-induced cancers. Alarmingly, up to 1,640 men and 1,580 women in the region are diagnosed every two years with an alcohol-related cancer. Breast cancer is the most common among women, while men are mostly affected by bowel cancer. These figures are part of a larger global trend, with alcohol estimated to have caused around 740,000 new cases of cancer worldwide and 17,000 in the UK in 2020 alone.

The campaign's message is underscored by the World Health Organisation's warning that there is no safe amount of alcohol for health, with risks beginning from the first drop. Ailsa Rutter OBE, Director of Fresh and Balance, highlights a critical gap in public knowledge, noting that unlike tobacco, alcohol products don't carry warnings about cancer or other health risks on their labels. This lack of information is a significant concern, as two-thirds of people in the North East are unaware of the carcinogenic nature of alcohol.

In summary, the "Alcohol is Toxic" campaign is a critical initiative to confront the alarming link between alcohol consumption and cancer in the North East. It seeks to educate and encourage the public to reduce their alcohol intake, providing resources and support to facilitate this change​.

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