Source: University of Otago, 27 June 2016
A new study* has shown that nearly a third of all
alcohol-related deaths in New Zealand are due to cancer; and that
the cancers involved include two of the most common cancers in New
Zealand - breast cancer in women, and bowel cancer in men and
"Given there are about 15 or so alcohol-related deaths a week in
New Zealand, five are due to an alcohol-related cancer", said Prof
Doug Sellman, medical spokesperson for Alcohol Action NZ, "and
these cancers are preventable if alcohol use could be significantly
"Importantly, the research shows these cancers are not just
occurring in people with severe alcoholism, but in fact are
occurring more frequently in people drinking at much lower
consumption levels. For instance, more than a third of breast
cancer cases are occurring in women drinking less than two standard
drinks a day. The crucial message is that a prevention strategy
must be population-based rather than focussed on people with
"The most effective population-based interventions relate to the
excessive commercialisation of alcohol that continues to exist in
New Zealand. The Government needs to get on board with the
1. Dismantle alcohol marketing
2. Increase the price of alcohol
3. Reduce the overall accessibility of alcohol
4. Raise the purchase age of alcohol
5. Further strengthen drink-driving countermeasures.
"No doubt the industry will react to this new paper with its
usual strategy of obfuscation"
"A series of public meetings featuring Prof Jennie Connor,
sponsored by Alcohol Action NZ, will to be held in August to
further highlight the association between alcohol and cancer."
*Connor JL, Kydd R, Maclennan B, Shield K, Rehm J.
Alcohol-attributable cancer deaths under 80 years of age in New
Zealand. Drug and Alcohol Review 2016 DOI: 10.1111/dar.12443