The seven cancers that become more of a risk when you drink

South Tyneside drinkers could be risking seven types of cancer even by consuming only small amounts of alcohol.
Coun Tracey Dixon.Coun Tracey Dixon.
Coun Tracey Dixon.

That’s the hard-hitting message issued as part of a new campaign by the North East drink awareness group Balance today.

And it came with a warning from Coun Tracey Dixon, South Tyneside Council’s Lead Member for Independence and Wellbeing, who said: “As well as health problems, long-term alcohol misuse can lead to social problems such as unemployment, divorce, domestic abuse and homelessness.”

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The first review of the alcohol drinking guidelines in 20 years, led by the Chief Medical Officers across the UK, showed drinking increases the risk of at least seven different types of cancer, including the mouth and throat, bowel and breast cancer in women.

Data shows that 27% of all new North East cancer cases – some 4,200 per year – were made up of these cancer types.

Bowel cancer incidence rates have remained stable over the past decade. Female breast cancer increased 8% while the rise in mouth and throat cancers was 34% - and almost one in three mouth and throat cancers are thought to be linked to alcohol.

Public awareness of the links between alcohol and cancer remain low. A Cancer Research UK study by Sheffield University found only around one in 10 people mentioned cancer when asked about conditions which could result from drinking too much alcohol.

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Sue Taylor, Partnerships Manager for Balance said: “So many people remain unaware of the links between alcohol and cancer, as well as the health risks associated with alcohol in general.

“This is particularly worrying when we’re seeing such sharp increases in alcohol-related hospital admissions.”

Coun Dixon urged anyone concerned about their drinking levels, or someone else’s, to visit their GP.

For tips on cutting back, visit or call (0191) 4247300.

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For more information about Balance’s alcohol and cancer campaign, visit

People can also visit and @BalanceNE on Twitter.


A closer look at the figures shows;

* Bowel cancer, female breast cancer and oral cavity and pharynx cancers account for 27% of all cancers diagnosed in the North East between 2011-2013.

* Bowel cancer rates have remained steady. Figures for 2001-2003 show there were 82 cases per 100,000 people. The rate stayed at 80 per 100,000 people between 2011-2013.

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* But female breast cancer rates have gone up by 8% from 147 cases per 100,000 females to 159 per 100,000 females over the same period.

* Oral cavity and pharynx cancers have increased by 34% from 11 to 14 per 100,000 people over the same period.

* The seven types of cancer which people face an increased risk from, by drinking, are bowel cancer, breast cancer, laryngeal cancer, liver cancer, mouth and pharyngeal cancer, oesophageal cancer and stomach cancer.