Research Shows Most People Are Unaware of the Link Between Alcohol and Cancer

Despite warnings from the Government and a change in the recommended alcohol guidelines for safe consumption, a poll for World Cancer Research Fund has found that eighty-six per cent of people in the UK are unaware that alcohol can increase the risk of cancer.

As part of Cancer Prevention Month, the results of the YouGov poll have been revealed, and they show that while most people are aware of a link between cancer and genes, most cannot comprehend the fact that alcohol is directly related to particular cases of the illness. And around fifty per cent of people believed that there was a direct link between stress and cancer, despite evidence showing this to be a myth.

Reducing the Risk of Cancer

According to research, the best ways to decrease the risk of cancer are to stop smoking, achieve a healthy weight, and stop drinking alcohol. While previous advice suggested that red wine could be beneficial to heart health, evidence has now shown that the harmful effects of the alcohol in the red wine outweigh any benefits. Research has also demonstrated that a third of the most common cases of cancer could be prevented with improvements to diet and physical activity.

Comprehending the Dangers of Alcohol

In terms of understanding the risk of alcohol and the link between cancer, it was found that Welsh adults are the least aware of the dangers of consuming drinks such as red wine, with only five per cent of those surveyed understanding the risk.

Surprisingly, those over the age of fifty-five who are at most risk of cancer is the demographic least aware of the danger. Only six per cent of the over fifty-fives were aware that alcohol consumption could lead to an increased risk compared to twenty-seven per cent of those aged between eighteen and twenty-four.

Head of Research Interpretation at World Cancer Research Fund, Dr Rachel Thompson, said: “Cancer is a devastating disease and we are working for a world free of preventable cancers. People are aware of some risk factors, such as inherited genes, but not some of the modifiable lifestyle factors that can really make a difference. With so many people being diagnosed with cancer, we want people to know what factors are increasing their risk, such as red wine, so that they can make informed choices to help reduce their risk”.

Head of Health Information at World Cancer Research Fund, Sarah Toule, said: “It is very worrying, but not surprising, that so few people know that red wine increases cancer risk when there are so many contradictory messages out there.

She went on to say, “All types of alcohol increase the risk of a number of different cancers, so we recommend for cancer prevention that people don’t drink any alcohol. In fact, around 21,000 cancer cases could be prevented in the UK every year if no one drank alcohol. We know that it can be hard for people to not drink at all, so we’d encourage them to be ‘alcohol savvy’ if they do. For example, add a low-calorie mixer to your alcohol and, in between each alcoholic drink, have a glass of water. It’s also really important to not binge-drink and to spread your weekly limit of seven drinks over a number of days as well as keeping a few days alcohol-free”.


As well as increasing the risk of cancer, drinking too much alcohol can lead to alcoholism. If you are worried about your own alcohol consumption or that of a loved one, help is available. Here at Blue Skies Recovery, we are working every day to help those affected by alcohol addiction. For more information on our service and how we can help you, call us today.


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