Scottish Health Action on Alcohol Problems (SHAAP) have released a report Alcohol and Cancer Risks: a Guide for Health Professionals [pdf].
The report aims to highlight that many cancers are preventable, and identifies some key facts as:
- One third of cancers are linked to a number of lifestyle risk factors – smoking, alcohol, diet, overweight/obesity, and physical inactivity
- Half of the Scottish population have three or more of these lifestyle risk factors
- Forty-six per cent of [Scottish] men and 38% of women drink alcohol at levels higher than current guidelines for sensible alcohol consumption
- Drinking alcohol increases the risk of cancer of the breast, head and neck, the oesophagus, bowel and liver
- Each year, approximately 6% of new cancer cases are estimated to be attributable to alcohol consumption
- Drinking alcohol, even within the limits of current advice on sensible drinking, may increase the risks of alcohol-attributable oral and pharyngeal as well as breast cancer
- Reducing alcohol consumption to levels within the current guidance for sensible drinking will reduce the risk of developing an alcohol-attributable cancer
The guide calls on health proffessionals to make use of opportunities to raise awareness of the risks of alcohol and cancer through the delivery of brief intervention.
Last year Cancer Research UK suggested as many as 40% of cancers could be preventable through improved lifestyle choices including smoking, unhealthy diets, alcohol and excess weight. A recent King's Fund report explored the close links of these behaviours, with many adults in England engaging in at least one unhealthy lifestyle behaviour.