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500 people die of alcohol-related cancer in Ireland every year

10% of all cancers in men and 3% in women are caused by alcohol.

Image: Shutterstock/KucherAV

ALCOHOL IS THE cause of around 900 incidences of cancer in Ireland each year, and 500 of these patients will die of their disease.

Alcohol is a known cause of seven types of cancer – mouth, throat, voice box, gullet, breast, bowel and liver. Overall, 10% of all cancers in men and 3% in women are caused by alcohol.

While there are no ‘safe’ alcohol limits, the more you drink, the greater the risk of cancer.

According to the National Cancer Control Programme, over half of alcohol related cancers in Ireland are preventable by adhering to low-risk weekly guidelines for alcohol consumption – 11 standard drinks for women and 17 for men.

At an event hosted by the Irish Cancer Society last night, addiction psychiatrist Dr Peter Rice addressed the implications of what we drink on how likely we are to develop cancer.

shutterstock_426651949 Source: Shutterstock/stockcreations

Dr Rice, who is Chair of the Executive Committee of Scottish Health Action on Alcohol Problems said:

“My home country of Scotland is similar to Ireland when it comes to the amount of alcohol we drink. But the level of awareness of the cancer risks associated with alcohol is comparatively low – according to EU research, just under 7/10 Irish people know that alcohol causes cancer, while 97% knew of its links to liver disease.

This is despite widespread global research which places alcohol in the same group as smoking, obesity, physical inactivity and UV radiation when it comes to dominant lifestyle risks for cancer.

“The good news is that even a small decrease in alcohol consumption can reduce your risk of developing cancer.”

Head of Research at the Irish Cancer Society, Dr Robert O’Connor, added:

“One in five of all alcohol-related deaths are due to cancer. But our consumption of alcohol is increasing – in 2010 it was 145% higher than the average amount drank in 1960. Irish people drink more than the European average, which stands at 11 litres of pure alcohol per person per year.

Dr Rice’s experience and knowledge around alcohol is invaluable, so it is hugely important that we acknowledge his work and learn from the steps that have been taken in Scotland to address this issue.

Last night’s event was held as part of the Irish Cancer Society’s ‘Decoding Cancer’ series of public talks, which aims to dispel some of the myths around cancer and explore the many advances being made through research in prevention, early detection, treatment, and survivors’ quality of life.

Read: Fad diets harming Irish cancer patients

Read: ‘It really changed everything for me’: How magic mushrooms helped treat anxiety in cancer patients

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