More attention needed for the relationship alcohol and cancer

8 September 2010

Information about health-risks should be communicated more intensively.

Alcohol is a carcinogenic substance. This is a proven fact for the International Agency for Cancer-research of the WHO (World Health Organization). However many experts in the Netherlands make no allowance to this relatively new knowledge. Not seldom it is wrongful pretended that specially drinking of wine contributes to a healthy lifestyle.
Even more important to know is that the WHO has stated that there is no complete safe minimum for alcohol-use. Each glass of alcohol does increase the risk of cancer.
The Dutch Institute for Alcohol Policy (STAP) organizes on the 23 of September 2010 in Amsterdam a conference about alcohol and health. Three cancer specialists explain during the conference the exact relationship between alcohol and cancer.
Also the importance of honest and plain public information about the health risks of alcohol will be stressed.

Relationship alcohol and cancer scientifically founded

Each year about 50.000 people in the European Union die from cancer directly related to alcohol-use (Anderson & Baumberg, 2006). Nevertheless the theme cancer is not yet a prominently topic in the public debate about the health risks of alcohol. From a number of studies however it appears that alcohol-use unequivocally can be brought into connection with the origination of cancer. Examples are the cancers of head, neck, gullet, colitis and breast. The International Agency for research on cancer (IARC) of the WHO indicates that alcohol as well as the most important breakdown product of alcohol, acetaldehyde, is cancer-creating (carcinogen)

Alcohol and breast cancer

According to the RIVM (Dutch Institute for Public Health and the Environment) breast cancer is one of the most important causes of death among women between 30 and 59 years of age. The Dutch Cancer Society concludes that women in the Netherlands are running the risk of one in eight to get breast cancer during their life. It is the most occurring species of cancer among women. Breast cancer is among others influenced by various hormonal and reproductive factors. However, research shows that also alcohol-use plays a demonstrable role in the originating of breast cancer. About 4% of all breast cancer can be explained by alcohol-use. In the Netherlands it concerns roughly 500 of the 12.500 cases of breast cancer per year. Alcohol does not have a protective effect on the development of it, even not in small doses. Each glass of alcohol contributes to an increased risk. With 1 à 2 glasses of alcohol per day the risk increases with 10%, with 3 or more glasses per day even with 30%.

Three cancer experts on congress alcohol and health

The Dutch Institute for Alcohol Policy organizes on the 23 of September 2010 the first national congress on alcohol and health in Pakhuis de Zwijger in Amsterdam. During that congress three scientists will take on the relationship between alcohol and cancer. These are: Prof. dr. ir. Ellen Kampman, professor Food and Cancer at Wageningen University, the German chemist Dr. Dirk W. Lachenmeier from the Laboratory for Chemical and Veterinary Analysis from Karlsruhe and an expert from the French National Institute for agricultural research (NRA) in Paris.

For more information about the congress “Alcohol and Health”: see

A selection of scientific literature about alcohol and (breast)cancer:
- Allen et al., 2009. Moderate Alcohol Intake and Cancer Incidence in Women. Journal of National Cancer Institute, 2009; Vol. 101, pag.: 296-205.
- Anderson, P. & Baumberg, B. (2006) Alcohol in Europe. London: Institute of Alcohol Studies.
- Baan et al. (2007). Carcinogenicity of alcoholic beverages., vol 8, April 2007.
- Collaborative Group on Hormonal Factors in Breast Cancer (2002). Alcohol, tobacco and breast cancer--collaborative reanalysis of individual data from 53 epidemiological studies, including 58,515 women with breast cancer and 95,067 women without the disease. British Journal of Cancer, 87, 1234-45.
- Kaiser Permanente Study (2007). Alcohol Consumption – No Matter Beverage Type – Linked to Breast Cancer Risk. See Kaiser.
- Key et al. (2006). Meta-analysis of studies of alcohol and breast cancer with consideration of the methodological issues. Cancer Causes Control 2006. Vol 17, pag.: 759-770.
- KWF Kankerbestrijding (2010). Inleiding Borstkanker. KWF Kankerbestrijding, Amsterdam.
- Nationaal Kompas Volksgezondheid (2010). Borstkanker, Omvang van het Probleem. Nationaal Kompas Volksgezondheid, versie 3.22, 24 juni 2010. RIVM, Bilthoven. See: RIVM.
- World Cancer Research Fund / American Institute for Cancer Research (2007). Food, Nutrition, Physical Activity, and the Prevention of Cancer: a Global Perspective. Washington DC: AICR, 2007.

For more informatioon:
Dutch Institute for Alcohol Policy (STAP)
Mr. Ir. W.E. van Dalen, director,
T 030-6565041 / 06-53295544


Dutch Institute for Alcohol Policy STAP
P.O. Box 9769
3506 GT Utrecht
The Netherlands
T: +31 (0)30-6565041
F: +31 (0)30-6565043