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FACTS

The ethanol found in all alcoholic beverages is classified as group 1 carcinogen.

Regarding alcohol use the Code has the following conclusions: If you drink alcohol of any type, limit your intake. Not drinking alcohol is better for cancer prevention.

New cancer code:

Alcohol use a significant cancer risk factor

The International Agency for Research on Cancer and the European Commission has released an updated 4th edition of the European Code Against Cancer. The Code points at alcohol use as one of the significant risk factors. Still public awareness around this link is alarmingly low.

European Code Against Cancer is an initiative that was first launched in 1987 and has been updated as scientific and medical knowledge has progressed. The code has been developed by The International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) and is co-funded by the European Commission.

Based on the best available scientific evidence, the new Code provides 12 ways to adopt healthier lifestyles and boost cancer prevention across Europe. It is the outcome of a two-year collaborative work between cancer specialists, scientists, and other experts from across the European Union (EU). Regarding alcohol use the Code has the following conclusions: If you drink alcohol of any type, limit your intake. Not drinking alcohol is better for cancer prevention.

See the full text of the code here. 

Here is a specialized web site on alcohol and cancer, published by the Association of European Cancer Leagues and Eurocare; the European Alcohol Policy Alliance

The first conclusive links between alcohol and cancer were established back in 1987, yet nearly 25 years later public awareness about these links is alarmingly low. For example, the 2010 Eurobarometer report found that 1 in 5 European citizens still do not believe that there is connection between alcohol and cancer.

The ethanol found in all alcoholic beverages is classified as group 1 carcinogen. As revealed in the report, there is “no doubt” that alcohol can cause cancers of the oral cavity, pharynx, larynx, oesophagus, liver, colorectum and breast.

The Code emphasizes the importance of avoiding tobacco, alcohol, and excessive sun exposure as well as the benefits of maintaining a healthy body weight and being physically active. It also recommends participation in organized programmes for bowel, breast, and cervical cancer screening.

The European Alcohol Policy Alliance (Eurocare) warmly welcomes the New European Code Against Cancer. Mariann Skar, Eurocare Secretary General, commented: “We support the 4th European Code Against Cancer and are delighted with the clear message it conveys in relation to the consumption of alcohol. We would like to call on all actors, public and private, to help raise awareness about the fact that alcohol contributes to cancer development. We all have the right to know not only what is in our drinks but also what side effects they cause to our health.”

Eurocare has been advocating for health warning labels as one of the tools to cost-effectively raise awareness about dangers caused by alcohol consumption. Eurocare is the European branch of the Global Alcohol Policy Alliance (GAPA).

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