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Danish Cancer Society: More than four in 10 adults have experienced drinking pressure

09.01.2024 - 44 percent of adult Danes have experienced someone trying to get them to drink more alcohol than they wanted to. This is shown by a new study from the Danish Cancer Society.

For many, January offers an opportunity to take a break from alcoholic beverages. However, reducing alcohol consumption is easier said than done. The Danish alcohol culture makes it difficult to say no to alcohol, according to a new study from the Danish Cancer Society.

According to the study, more than four out of 10 adults in Denmark have experienced someone trying to make them drink more alcohol than they wanted to. At the same time, one in five believe it is difficult to be part of social gatherings where alcohol is consumed if they themselves do not drink. One fifth of the respondents have also declined to participate in a social event because they did not want to drink alcohol.

"Denmark is in many ways blind to alcohol, and we do not realize how big a role alcohol plays in social contexts. We would like to question this culture and get more people to reflect on it," says Peter Dalum, Project Manager at the Danish Cancer Society.

A good reason to say no thanks

It is not only difficult for many to participate in social communities where alcohol is prominent. It is also a challenge for adult Danes to find accepted reasons to say no to alcohol.

The survey shows that only 43 percent of the respondents feel that "I just don't feel like it" is accepted as a good reason for not drinking alcohol. Driving and pregnancy are perceived as the most accepted reasons for not drinking alcohol, but even in these cases, one is not assured of understanding acceptance. Only about eight out of 10 experience that driving and pregnancy are accepted as good reasons for not drinking alcohol.

"It is absurd that we have a culture in Denmark where many feel they cannot say no to alcohol. Not even with the reason that they simply just do not feel like it. It is an excluding and unhealthy culture that we must change," believes Peter Dalum, Project Manager at the Danish Cancer Society.

Cancer and alcohol

Alcohol is classified by the World Health Organization (WHO) as a substance that is definitely carcinogenic to humans. The risk of cancer increases with the amount of alcohol consumed.

Alcohol increases the risk of at least seven different types of cancer, including breast cancer and colon cancer, which are some of the most common cancers in Denmark. It does not matter whether one drinks wine, beer, or spirits – the risk of cancer is the same.

It is best to drink as little as possible if one wants to reduce their risk of cancer. But if one stays within the National Health Authority's recommendations of a maximum of 10 units per week, and no more than 4 on the same day, the risk of alcohol-related cancer is low. Annually, 1,100 Danes get cancer as a result of alcohol. This corresponds to almost 3 percent of all cancer cases.

Read more about alcohol and cancer on the Danish Cancer Society's website: [Alcohol and Cancer]

About the survey

The survey is based on data from a questionnaire survey among 3,020 Danes aged 18-74 years. The data collection was carried out by the analysis institute Voxmeter in the period May 8 – July 14, 2023. The data is nationally representative in terms of gender, age, and region. The report was prepared by the Danish Cancer Society.

Read the survey report here

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