Report predicts 135,000 alcohol-related cancer deaths by 2025

Colin Shevills, director of Balance.
Colin Shevills, director of Balance.

Balance, the North East Alcohol Office, is backing calls to raise awareness as a new Cancer Research UK report predicts around 135,000 alcohol-related cancer deaths in the UK over the next 20 years.

The report, released today and also coinciding with Alcohol Awareness Week, forecasts an estimated extra £2billion in cancer costs by 2025 and around 6,700 cancer deaths in the UK every year that are associated with alcohol.

Meanwhile in the North East, Balance’s analysis of the findings predicts that there will be almost 100,000 more alcohol-related cancer hospital admissions in our region over the next 20 years. Yet a recent CRUK study found awareness is still at a low level, with just one in 10 people aware of the links between alcohol and cancer.

Colin Shevills, director of Balance, said: “The new Cancer Research report suggests if we don’t do more to address the issue, we’re likely to see alarming rates of alcohol-related cancer deaths and hospital admissions over the next 20 years.

“In the North East alone, it’s predicted we’ll see around 100,000 hospital admissions for alcohol-related cancers in those 20 years, but still awareness levels of the links between alcohol and at least seven types of cancer, remain at a low level.

“We know that mass-media campaigns have an impact and awareness levels in our region are growing, but much more needs to be done if we believe people have a right to know the risks associated with alcohol consumption.”

However, Dave Roberts, director general of the Alcohol Information Partnership, said: “According to the Global Burden of Disease Study 2015, the UK overall alcohol-attributable cancer death rate has fallen by 7.5 per cent since 2005.”

He added: “Alcohol consumption in the UK has fallen over the past decade with a 32 per cent fall in harmful drinking among young people and a 61 per cent fall in the number drinking alcohol in the past five days.

“An increased risk of cancer is always serious. However, the data suggests that to reduce the risk of cancer, adults should avoid smoking, eat well, exercise and, if they choose to drink alcohol, they should do so in moderation and within government guidelines.”

As we reported earlier this month, a campaign highlighting the links between alcohol and at least seven types of cancer has relaunched as findings show more people in the North East are now aware of the link between the two.

Featuring the thought-provoking Spot of Lunch TV advert and a newly-refreshed website, the four-week campaign aims to further increase awareness, helping people in the North East keep their risks low by encouraging them to drink within the new recommended guidelines of 14 units of alcohol per week for both men and women.

In response to that article, Mr Roberts said: “I commend efforts to inform the people of the North East about the risks connected with the misuse of alcohol.

“However, when doing so it is important to keep the risk in context. For light and moderate male and female drinkers, the evidence points to a lifetime risk to overall health that is equivalent to many everyday activities, such as driving a car, and considerably less than many other pursuits.

“The vast majority of people in the North East already enjoy drinking in moderation and in a convivial and responsible manner. According to the Office of National Statistics, only 57 per cent of people in the region drank in the last week and 20 per cent of the region’s adults are teetotal.”