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Experts: Cancer prevention is not a private matter – focus on alcohol

It is estimated that more than 8,000 cancer deaths will be due to alcohol consumption by 2022.  Photo: Armin Weigel/dpa

It is estimated that more than 8,000 cancer deaths will be due to alcohol consumption by 2022. photo

© Armin Weigel/dpa

Those who drink a lot not only risk liver and pancreas problems, but also an increased risk of developing cancer. The new alcohol atlas emphasizes this connection.

In view of the thousands of alcohol-related new cancer cases every year, experts are calling on politicians to raise taxes on alcohol, raise the selling age and limit advertising.

“A lot of people don’t know that alcohol is a major risk factor for cancer,” says Katrin Schaller of the German Cancer Research Center (DKFZ) in Heidelberg. It is estimated that more than 20,000 new cancer cases and more than 8,000 cancer deaths are due to alcohol consumption in Germany each year. According to the author of the Alcohol Atlas 2022, the strongest influence is on colon cancer, cancer of the mouth and throat, liver, esophagus and breast.

Experts warn against alcohol lobby

At the same time, the experts warn politicians against alcohol industry lobbyists who try to influence decision-makers and sponsor public institutions, party conferences or sporting events to present themselves as socially responsible partners. They also supported scientific studies that downplayed or disputed the negative effects of alcohol consumption on health and society.

It is estimated that by 2022, more than 8,000 cancer deaths – about 6,200 in men and 2,100 in women – will be due to alcohol use. This corresponds to about six percent of all cancer deaths in men and three percent in women.

With their demands, the DKFZ, the German Cancer Aid and the German Cancer Association want to emphasize the start of the National Week of Cancer Prevention, which will last until September 16. The basis is the atlas, which highlights, among other things, the link between socially tolerated alcohol consumption and cancer.

requirements for higher taxes

According to the experts, consumption could be reduced by making alcohol more expensive. They still see room for improvement in the excise tax on alcohol. Currently, the alcohol tax is 1303 euros per hectolitre of pure alcohol. According to the companies, the annual revenue from this tax of 3.2 billion euros is offset by direct and indirect costs of 57 billion euros. This is the result of medical costs, low productivity, absenteeism due to illness and early retirement. In other countries, a 10 percent price increase led to a 6 percent drop in consumption, Schaller explains.

Another construction site is the protection of minors. Young people aged 14 and over are currently allowed to drink wine and beer under the supervision of their parents and from the age of 16 without supervision. At the age of 18, hard drinks such as rum, schnapps and vodka are added to it. The cancer associations are calling for a uniform age limit of 18 years for the consumption of all types of alcoholic beverages, regardless of parental presence.

Advertising should be restricted

The experts also see unused levers in advertisements; so far there is only a ban on alcohol advertising in cinemas before 6 pm. “We urgently demand at the very least a ban on advertising in the context of all kinds of sporting events,” Schaller said.

Cancer relief boss Gerd Nettekoven sums up that everyone can give up unhealthy habits. “But cancer prevention is not just a private matter.” Politicians must create conditions that promote a healthy lifestyle.

The risk of developing cancer increases with increasing amounts and frequency of ingestion of the cytotoxin. Even a low alcohol consumption of up to 12.5 grams of alcohol per day increases the risk of developing cancer in the mouth and throat, esophagus and chest. “Many years of life in good health are lost through alcohol consumption,” the atlas says. Most alcohol-related deaths occur between the ages of 20 and 50.


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