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Well-attended lunch seminar in the Swedish Parliament on alcohol and cancer

12.04.2024 - To raise awareness about the link between alcohol and cancer among politicians and decision-makers, the Regional Cancer Centers (RCC) in collaboration organized a lunch seminar in the Swedish Parliament. Research has long shown that there is a clear connection between alcohol and cancer, but several surveys indicate that public knowledge about this is limited.

The seminar began with a brief presentation of the latest research on how alcohol consumption is clearly associated with an increased risk of cancer development in several different organs. Mats Ramstedt, head of research at CAN, discussed a new study that shows the relationship between total consumption and overall cancer mortality is also reflected at the population level. The link is strongest in countries with harmful drinking patterns, like in Sweden.

Harriet Rumgay, a researcher at the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC), provided an overview. Research from IARC indicates that alcohol consumption caused nearly 100,000 cases of breast cancer globally in 2020. This makes breast cancer the most common type of cancer caused by alcohol consumption among women worldwide.

Jytte Guteland (S), Member of Parliament, Irma Kilim Ahnsjö, Head of Public Health at Systembolaget, Lena Sharp, Director of RCC Stockholm Gotland, Dan Hovskär (KD) member of the Social Committee, Marit Jenset, General Secretary of the Breast Cancer Association, Mats Ramstedt, Head of Research at CAN (Central Association for Alcohol and Drug Information), Tobias Nilsson, Gullers Group.

Alcohol increases the risk of cancer Lena Sharp, head of RCC Stockholm Gotland, emphasized during the seminar that everyone has the right to know that alcohol increases the risk for several different forms of cancer. There is also no safe amount when it comes to drinking alcohol.

"Cancer is one of our major public diseases, and alcohol is a significant modifiable risk factor. There are still many misconceptions about wine being good for health. Therefore, it is important to communicate the research that exists to the public, not in an alarmist way, but so that everyone has the right to know that alcohol increases the risk of cancer, to be able to make informed choices," said Lena Sharp.

Marit Jenset, General Secretary of the Breast Cancer Association, also emphasized the importance of informing in the right way and not to place blame.

"Individual habits around food and drink can be a sensitive topic to talk about. We are all just human. If you come with too many admonitions, there is a risk that it has the opposite effect and that no one listens," said Marit Jenset.

Protecting the good work already being done The core of the knowledge-raising initiative that RCC has initiated with several other organizations is to help spread the knowledge about the connection between alcohol and cancer. The work is not done yet but has come a long way.

Karin Tegmark Wisell, Director-General of the Public Health Agency, stated that we must protect the good work already being done to reduce the medical and social harms caused by alcohol as part of cancer prevention work and continue to work together and find new synergies. Many tools are already in place, and we see that alcohol consumption overall has decreased among young people during the 21st century. However, going forward, continued broad knowledge-raising efforts are needed about the fact that there is no safe amount for alcohol consumption.


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