A new study says that alcohol industries are misleading the public over the risks of drinking and cancer by downplaying and misrepresenting the link between alcohol and cancer, in a bid to protect its profits.
Despite portraying themselves as socially responsible, many drinks producers are also trying to distract attention from alcohol’s well-established role as a key cause of cancer, confuse consumers and blame other factors, it is claimed.
Researchers analyzed information relating to cancer on the websites and documents of almost 30 industry organizations between September and December last year, finding 24 out of the 26 websites showed “some sort of distortion or misrepresentation” of evidence.
The World Health Organization says drinking is a well-established risk factor for a range of cancers, including tumors of the mouth, liver, breast and colon and bowel.
Alcohol consumption has been strongly linked to breast cancer and research shows that even a small glass of wine could increase its risk by 6%. According to researchers, alcohol damages the cells, triggering tumour formations.
Drinking increases the risk of a wide range of health conditions including high blood pressure, some cancers and depression. Meanwhile women who drink are 20% more likely to get breast cancer than those who don’t, according to Public Health England.
“The alcohol industry appears to be engaged in the extensive misrepresentation of evidence about the alcohol-related risk of cancer. These activities have parallels with those of the tobacco industry”, according to a study by Professor Mark Petticrew, of the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine and colleagues.
The authors said it was important to highlight that those who drink within the recommended guidelines, not more than 14 units a week for both men and women, “shouldn’t be too concerned when it comes to cancer.”
Consumers have a right to know the truth about alcohol and cancer so that they can make fully informed decisions about their drinking. The study was published in the Drug and Alcohol Review journal.