Drinking Trends Across Europe Increasing Bowel Cancer Risk

VIENNA, October 2, 2015 /PRNewswire/ --

It has been estimated that around one in 10 cases of bowel cancer can be linked to alcohol consumption[1] and the risk increases the more alcohol you drink[2].

One international group of researchers has estimated that the bowel cancer risk increases by 21% if you have two or three alcoholic drinks a day (1.5 to 6 units of alcohol) and by more than 50% if you have four or more drinks a day (6 units or more). Even having one alcoholic drink a day (1 unit) increases the risk by 7%.[2]

Many people understand that alcohol damages the liver, but the strong link between alcohol and bowel cancer is less well known. Now, experts are calling for a more concerted effort to conduct further research and raise awareness of the link between alcohol and bowel cancer in order to reduce the incidence of one of Europe's most common cancers. "Alcohol is one of the most serious and avoidable risk factors for bowel cancer and we need to take urgent steps and encourage people to reduce their alcohol intake," explains Professor Patrizia Burra, from United European Gastroenterology (UEG). "Of major concern is that younger people are now drinking more heavily and often in dangerous or hazardous ways and we expect this to have a significant impact on future bowel cancer incidence rates."

Alcohol consumption is a major public health concern and Europe has the highest levels of drinkers in the world. The EU currently has the highest alcohol consumption, on average consuming 12.51 litres of pure alcohol per person, more than double the worldwide average. [3]

Due to speak at the 23rd United European Gastroenterology Week in Barcelona later this month, Professor Burra explains; "Successful cancer prevention requires a combination of individual action and support for individuals to make the lifestyle changes needed to stay healthy. If we don't change our approach to alcohol consumption now, we face serious health and economic repercussions for future generations."

Notes to Editors: 


1) Parkin DM. Br J Cancer 2011;105:S14-S18.
2) Fedirko V, Tramacere I, Bagnardi V, et al. Ann Oncol 2011;22:1958-72.
3) Roberts SE, Samuel DG, Williams JG, et al. Survey of Digestive Health across Europe.
Part one.

For supporting information, graphics and local country expert interviews, please contact:

Luke Paskins, media@ueg.eu, +44(0)1444811099

United European Gastroenterology

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