17 Jun 2015

Focus on link between cancer and drink

4:00 pm on 17 June 2015

A game-changer is needed to highlight the link between alcohol and cancer, health leaders have been told.

Alcohol section in Pak n Save Kilbirnie.

Photo: RNZ / Alexander Robertson

Pressure group Alcohol Action is hosting a conference on alcohol and cancer today at Te Papa in Wellington, in partnership with the Cancer Society of New Zealand.

According to Alcohol Action, more than 800 New Zealanders under 80 years of age die every year of alcohol-related causes - and nearly a third of them die from a cancer linked to drink.

The most common type of cancer in that category is breast cancer.

The audience at the conference was told that physicians have known about the carcinogenic connection for years but say the public knows little about it.

The medical message is simple: reducing alcohol consumption reduces cancer.

Alcohol Action was asked what it would tell patients complaining that doctors have taken away their cigarettes and now want to take away their beer, wine and spirits.

The group said it did not want to take away anything, but it did want the health sector to show leadership, raise awareness and get people to cut down on the drink to save their lives.

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