Alcohol should have cancer warning labels, say experts

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Description photo only – Source: Asia Samachar

By Ioanna Roumeliotis & Brenda Witmer | CBC News |

It’s not a secret, but it may as well be. Few Canadians know the truth, and few may want to hear it: Alcohol, any amount of alcohol, can cause cancer. There is no safe amount, and the calls to inform Canadians are growing.

“Even drinking one drink a day increases your risk of some cancers — including, if you’re a woman, breast cancer — but also cancers of the digestive system, the mouth, stomach,” said Tim Stockwell, a senior scientist with the Canadian Institute for Substance Use Research at the University of Victoria. 

“The risk increases with every drink you take.”

Alcohol has been classified as a Group 1 carcinogen (carcinogenic to humans) for decades by the International Agency for Research on Cancer. It’s right up there with tobacco and asbestos. Alcohol is also a  top cause of preventable cancer after smoking and obesity.

But the vast majority of Canadians have no idea of the risk. 

Stockwell wants to change that, and he and other health experts are advocating for cancer warning labels on alcohol containers. People need to know, he says, that though there are other genetic and lifestyle factors that contribute to developing cancer, every drink comes with a risk.

“The risk from alcohol, it’s a dose response. The bigger and more frequent the dose, the higher your risk.”

Kathy Andrews had no idea that the wine she enjoyed most nights before she got pregnant was dangerous. The Vancouver resident was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2016.

“Some of the risk factors for me were that I’d been through IVF with my child and then pregnancy, as well as a stressful lifestyle and drinking, not exercising enough. So all of those things, I think, played a role,” she said.

When Andrews did her own research after her diagnosis, she says she was shocked to discover that moderate alcohol consumption has been linked to an approximate 30 to 50 per cent increased risk of breast cancer.

Read the full story, ‘Alcohol should have cancer warning labels, say doctors and researchers pushing to raise awareness of risk’ (CBC News, 08 Jan 2022), here.

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