Europe saw 11 per cent of its cancer cases linked to alcohol, which many people tend to ignore. The WHO European region in their fact sheet said that there was no safe level of alcohol consumption, regardless of the beverage type, quality and price.
In the factsheet “Alcohol and cancer in the WHO European Region: an appeal for better prevention”, the WHO mentioned that health hazards increased dramatically with the amount of alcohol intake. The WHO made the observations with respect to calculation of 2018 where Europeans drank no more than one big bottle of beer (500 ml), two glasses of wine (200 ml) or 60 ml of spirits per day.
Stating that it was not another cancer scare story, Country Health Programmes Division, WHO/Europe, Director Dr Nino Berdzuli said that there was strong evidence to show that alcohol consumption even at low levels can cause cancers.
Berdzuli said that alcohol consumption caused about 45,500 cases of breast cancer in women, with 12,100 consequent deaths in 2018 in European Region. There were also about 59,200 cases of colorectal cancer in women and men, with 28,200 deaths.
Alcohol is estimated to be responsible for about three million deaths every year. About 2545 deaths every day due to alcohol consumption is recorded in the European Region.
As per the Factsheet, smoking along with drinking increases the risk of cancer. It said that people using both alcohol and tobacco have a 30 times increased risk of developing cancers of oral cavity, larynx, oesophagus and oropharynx compared to others who use either tobacco or alcohol alone.
Programme Manager for Alcohol and Illicit Drugs at the NCD Office Dr Carina Ferreira-Borges said that the countries in the European Region should raise awareness among te people for bringing down alcohol consumption. Though several policies are in place, they are not implemented in an effective manner, Borges said.
As part of reducing the consumption, the WHO has come up with basic measures and they are:
- increase excise taxes on alcoholic beverages;
- implement restrictions on physical availability of retailed alcohol
- Enforce bans or comprehensive restrictions on exposure to alcohol advertising
- clear messaging that there is no safe level of alcohol consumption;
- increased levels of political commitment
- effective coordination of multisectoral action
- appropriate and widespread engagement of public health oriented nongovernmental organizations, civil society groups and professional associations.