Question to the Commission on the Harmful effects of alcohol by Niki Tzavela (EFD) (Greece)
In Europe, almost 10% of all cancers in men and 3% in women can be attributed to excessive consumption of alcohol according to new European scientific research. Greek investigators also took part in the study. For certain forms of cancer, the percentages are even higher. It is estimated that 44% of cancers of the upper gastrointestinal tract (mouth-throat-oesophagus), 33% of bowel cancers and 25% of liver cancers are alcohol-related in countries such as Greece, the United Kingdom, Italy, Spain, Germany and Denmark.
Since many people are not aware that too much alcohol may increase the risk of cancer, I ask the Commission:
What action can it take to make people in the Member States aware of the harmful effects of alcohol?
Answer given by Mr Dalli on behalf of the Commission
The Commission is aware of the negative health effects of harmful and hazardous alcohol consumption including the increased risk of cancer.
The Commission is addressing alcohol related harm through the EU strategy to support Member States in reducing alcohol-related harm. The Commission works in cooperation with Member States and with a wide range of stakeholders to develop policies and actions aimed at reducing alcohol related harm, including increased risk of cancer.
The Commission has set up a Committee on Alcohol Policy and Action to foster dialogue and exchange of information and best practice between Member States. Another tool for EU level action is the Alcohol and Health Forum which brings together a wide range of stakeholders and encourages them to take action to reduce alcohol related harm. The Association of European Cancer Leagues, for example, is a funding member of this Forum, and is committed to providing a platform for cancer leagues to discuss approaches to give information and advice for people across the EU regarding cancer risks, including risks related to alcohol use.
In 2009, the European Partnership for Action Against Cancer was set up, with the aim of supporting Member States and other stakeholders in their efforts to tackle cancer more efficiently. A number of key areas for action were identified within the Partnership, including health promotion and prevention, which notably addresses lifestyle-related determinants of health such as smoking and alcohol consumption. Work in this area is also being carried forward by European Cancer Leagues.
A useful tool for citizens is the European Code Against Cancer, which provides simple, evidence-based, user-friendly advice on how to prevent cancer, particularly by adopting a healthier lifestyle. The code includes a recommendation which specifically invites citizens to moderate their consumption of alcohol. The Code can be consulted at: www.cancercode.org