USA: Public Health Groups Request Cancer Warning On Alcohol
Public health groups in the United States have joined together to call for warning statements to be put on alcoholic beverages to increase consumer awareness of the link between alcohol and cancer.
The groups are asking the U.S. Department of Treasury’s Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau (TTB) to undertake a congressional reporting process provided for by the Alcoholic Beverage Labeling Act of 1988, with the objective of amending the health warning statement required to appear on all alcoholic beverage labels.
The letter to TTB includes signatures from the American Institute for Cancer Research, the American Public Health Association, Breast Cancer Action, the Center for Science in the Public Interest, and the U.S. Alcohol Policy Alliance.
Alcohol warning labels in USA
At the moment alcohol beverages in the US must carry warning on motor vehicle operation and using alcohol while pregnant.
The law which passed this statement has allowed for future amendments to be made promptly, in consultation with the Surgeon General, if new scientific evidence emerges.
The Surgeon General’s 2016 report document the link between alcohol consumption and cancers of the breast, oral cavity, esophagus, larynx, pharynx, liver, colon, and rectum. This is in line with the scientific evidence linking alcohol consumption and cancer.
In light of this consensus, the groups are urging TTB to seek congressional authorization for the following amendment to the current warning statement:
GOVERNMENT WARNING: According to the Surgeon General, consumption of alcoholic beverages can cause cancer, including breast and colon cancers.
Such a warning would save lives, the groups say, in part because most consumers are unaware of the link between alcohol and cancer.
Alcohol use and cancer
In the United States
- Alcohol consumption adversely affects nearly 90,000 Americans each year
- Alcohol consumption represents the third largest contributor to cancer cases in women (behind smoking and obesity) and the fourth largest contributor to cancer in men (behind smoking, obesity, and UV radiation)
- In 2014, alcohol consumption was associated with an estimated 6.4% – 50,110 – of all cancer cases in women, and 4.8% – 37,410 – of all cancer cases in men, with the largest burden by far for female breast cancer (39,060 cases)
Surveys have found that despite the harms, fewer than half of US adults know the risk of cancer from alcohol.
The disconnect between alcohol’s impact on cancer and the awareness of that impact should raise alarm bells,” said Thomas Gremillion, Director of Food Policy at CFA, as per, CFA.
The industry has succeeded in putting a health halo around alcohol. The government has the responsibility to give consumers the scientific information they need to make informed decisions about alcohol, just as it does with tobacco.”
National conversation about alcohol and cancer is accelerating
IOGT International has supported the U.S. Alcohol Policy Alliance and partners to arrange two symposia in the last four years to accelerate the national conversation about alcohol and cancer and to help promote awareness as well as policy action.