The alcohol industry is “misrepresenting evidence” about the cancer risks associated with drinking, researchers have warned.
Drinking increases the risk of a wide range of health conditions including high blood pressure, some cancers and depression. Meanwhile women who drink are 20% more likely to get breast cancer than those who don’t, according to Public Health England.
Yet despite the facts, many organisations within the alcohol industry are choosing to “distort” or “misrepresent” this evidence, say researchers from the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine and the Karolinska Institutet, Sweden.
For the review, researchers analysed information related to cancer which appeared on the websites and documents of nearly 30 alcohol industry organisations between September 2016 and December 2016.
They said 24 out of the 26 websites “showed some sort of distortion or misrepresentation of the evidence about alcohol-related cancer risk”.
Researchers identified three main industry strategies:
:: Denying or disputing any link with cancer, or selective omission of the relationship.
:: Distortion – by mentioning some risk of cancer, but misrepresenting or obfuscating the nature or size of that risk.
:: Distraction – by focusing discussion away from the independent effects of alcohol on common cancers.
Writing in the journal Drug and Alcohol Review, researchers said policymakers and public health bodies should reconsider their relationships to these alcohol industry bodies.
Mark Petticrew, Professor of Public Health at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine and lead author of the study, said: “The weight of scientific evidence is clear – drinking alcohol increases the risk of some of the most common forms of cancer, including several common cancers.
“Public awareness of this risk is low, and it has been argued that greater public awareness, particularly of the risk of breast cancer, poses a significant threat to the alcohol industry.
“Our analysis suggests that the major global alcohol producers may attempt to mitigate this by disseminating misleading information about cancer through their ‘responsible drinking’ bodies.”
Public Health England (PHE) estimates that 10 million people drink at levels that increase their risk of harm.
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Commenting on the review, Professor Linda Bauld, Cancer Research UK’s prevention expert, told HuffPost UK: “Alcohol is a preventable cause of cancer and is linked to seven different types, including some of the most common like breast and bowel cancer.
“Our research has found that only one in 10 adults in the UK know that alcohol can cause cancer. It’s …
Source:: The Huffington Post – UK Lifestyle