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  • Lauri Beekmann

Danes do not know that alcohol increases the risk of cancer

29.11.2022 - Every year, at least 1,100 Danes get cancer from alcohol. Yet a new report from the Danish Cancer Society shows that only 21% of Danes are aware that alcohol increases the risk of cancer.

Did you know that alcohol increases the risk of cancer? This is new knowledge for many, according to the report 'Alcohol habits of Danes 2020' from the Danish Cancer Society. The report asked 3,000 Danes between the ages of 18 and 74 what diseases they believed alcohol contributed to. Only 21 per cent mentions cancer.

According to Peter Dalum, project manager at the Danish Cancer Society, the figures clearly show that more information is needed about the link between alcohol and cancer:

"Eight out of ten Danes do not think about cancer when they consider the consequences of alcohol. But alcohol increases the risk of at least seven different types of cancer, and we want to share this knowledge with the Danes," says Peter Dalum.

Danes are actually demanding more knowledge in this area - in the report, 77% say there is a need for information on the fact that alcohol increases the risk of cancer.

Less is better

The risk of cancer increases with the amount of alcohol consumed. Even with an alcohol consumption of around 1 unit per day, an increased risk of cancer has been documented. Yet many people believe that alcohol-related cancer is something that only affects people who drink very large amounts of alcohol.

Only 25% say in the report that you don't necessarily have to drink a lot of alcohol, such as have an alcohol addiction, for the risk of cancer to increase. Peter Dalum is concerned about the lack of knowledge among Danes: "Most people know that alcohol in very large quantities is harmful, but few know that alcohol increases the risk of cancer - even with just one glass of wine or beer a day. We hope that by informing about the connection between alcohol and cancer, we can get more people to cut back on alcohol consumption, says Peter Dalum," says Peter Dalum.

If you stay within the Health Authority's recommendations of a maximum of 10 drinks a week and a maximum of 4 a day, you have a low risk of getting sick, including getting cancer, from alcohol. But according to figures from the Danish Health Authority, more than 700,000 Danes drink more than the recommended limit.

Women need to know the link between alcohol and breast cancer

Alcohol increases the risk of cancer of the mouth, throat, oesophagus, liver, breast and colorectum. Danes mainly link alcohol to liver cancer. In a list of possible cancers for which alcohol increases the risk, 40% tick off liver cancer. Only 7% know the link between alcohol and breast cancer.

"Breast cancer in women is the cancer most associated with alcohol, because it is so common and it does not take much alcohol to increase the risk. We would like to give that knowledge to women in particular, so that they can assess on an informed basis how much alcohol they want to drink, says Anne Tjønneland, research group leader at the Danish Cancer Society.

A study has calculated that over 7% of breast cancer cases in Denmark can be attributed to alcohol. This is equivalent to around 370 Danish women getting breast cancer from alcohol each year.

About the report 'Alcohol habits of Danes 2020'

The report maps the alcohol habits of Danes, their attitudes towards alcohol and their knowledge about the link between alcohol and cancer. The report is based on data from an internet-based questionnaire survey of 3,000 Danes aged 18-74.

The data was collected by the analysis institute Epinion in the period November 2020-January 2021, and the data is nationally representative in terms of gender, age, region and education. The report is produced by the Danish Cancer Society.

Read the full report here: Danskernes alkoholvaner 2020

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