In Brief

Alcohol a 'direct cause' of seven forms of cancer

Experts call for more education campaigns in wake of new study

Alcohol has been linked to seven forms of cancer, putting even moderate drinkers at risk, according to a new study.

Published in the scientific journal Addiction, the report said alcohol is estimated to have caused about half a million cancer deaths in 2012 – 5.8 per cent of cancer deaths worldwide.

Author Jennie Connor, from the University of Otago in New Zealand, uncovered evidence of a link between drinking and cancer of the mouth and throat, larynx, oesophagus, liver, colon, bowel and breast and said a drinker's risk increased in relation to the amount consumed.

Dr Jana Witt, Cancer Research UK's health information officer, told The Guardian: "We know that nine in ten people aren't aware of the link between alcohol and cancer and this review is a stark reminder that there's strong evidence linking the two."

Witt recommended that drinkers have some alcohol-free days each week: "Try swapping every other alcoholic drink for a soft drink, choosing smaller servings or less alcoholic versions of drinks, and not keeping a stock of booze at home," she added.

Susannah Brown, the science programme manager for the World Cancer Research Fund, said: "We agree that there is solid evidence to conclude that alcohol consumption directly causes cancer."

Elaine Hindal, of Drinkaware, a drinks industry-funded education charity, said that as well at the cancer connection, drinking "can also increase your risk of heart and liver disease, strokes and pancreatitis".

In January, Professor Dame Sally Davies, the chief medical officer for England, was accused of scaremongering when she said drinking alcohol could cause breast cancer.

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