Ireland To Add Cancer Warnings To Alcoholic Beverages

Will Ireland's move to add warnings spread like tobacco warning and lawsuits did?

By: Jennifer SweenieThe Epoch Times

Ireland is leading the charge as the first country to mandate health warnings on all alcoholic beverages, and other countries may soon follow suit.

Warning labels aren’t new to alcoholic beverages, but the country’s comprehensive additions—including cancer and liver disease warnings—are.

Research has vacillated on any potential health benefits of alcohol over the years. Ultimately, the American Cancer Society came forward in 2020 with their recommendation that alcohol is best avoided altogether. With this burgeoning awareness of alcohol’s health implications, the future of the industry remains unclear. Will this movement open up the potential for lawsuits as with big tobacco and the subsequent decades-long battles involving billions of dollars?

What You Need To Know About New Labels

The new label rule is slated to go into effect in 2026 and will require all wine, beer, and spirit containers to bear the warnings. The extensive warnings will cover the health risks associated with alcohol consumption, including the elevated risk of developing certain cancers. The labels will also include calorie count and grams of alcohol. The mandated labels include warnings about consumption during pregnancy and the risk of liver disease caused by alcohol.

The rule is based on the idea that the government has a responsibility to provide the consumer with a full picture of the risks of using a product. Ireland, like many countries, has an excise duty on alcohol, which means the government collects special tax revenue from alcohol sales.

Ireland is the first country in the European Union to include cancer warnings on alcohol products. South Korea implemented similar labelling rules in 2017 requiring manufacturers to choose one of three labels, two of which note the risk of cancer.

Dr. Samuel Ball Explains What Alcohol Really Does To Your Brain And Body

Link Between Cancer & Alcohol

While the exact reason why alcohol increases the risk of cancer is not fully understood as of yet, according to the American Cancer Society, there are seven cancers linked to alcohol consumption: mouth, throat, larynx, esophagus, liver, colon and rectum, and breast. There is also reason to believe that a correlation between alcohol and stomach cancer, as well as other cancers, exists.

A review published in Nutrients in 2021 found that alcohol accounts for 4% of all cancers worldwide, causing more than 740,000 deaths in 2020 alone. According to the Centres for Disease Control, when one consumes alcohol, his or her liver breaks it down into a chemical called acetaldehyde, a known carcinogen. Acetaldehyde damages the DNA, causing cells to proliferate and form a tumour.

The higher your exposure to acetaldehyde, the higher your risk of developing cancer.

study published in the British Journal of Cancer in 2014 found that any amount of alcohol consumption was linked to an increased risk of cancer of the oral cavity and pharynx.

For some types of cancer, including breast cancer, even minimal amounts of alcohol raise the risk. According to the Nutrients review, 100,000 of the cancer cases in 2020 were due to light and moderate levels of drinking—that is, just one to two drinks per day.

Most people are aware of the prominent negative health effects of alcohol, such as liver disease, but not many know that it can cause cancer, and according to some research, awareness of the cancer-causing effects of alcohol is lower in the United States than in other countries. A study published in 2020 in the Journal of Studies on Alcohol and Drugs found that cancer warning labels are effective at increasing knowledge on the correlation.

What Might The New Laws Mean For The Future of The Industry?

Ireland’s new labelling is reminiscent of legislation that targeted the tobacco industry—and the legal liabilities the industry carried.

The bulk of the legal action taken against the tobacco industry has centred on its failure to warn the public of the known dangers of cigarette smoking.

The first study identifying the correlation between excessive cigarette smoking and lung cancer was published in 1950. The first warning label on cigarette packages was introduced in 1965, but it wasn’t until the mid-1980s that the label addressed that cigarette smoking causes cancer.

The first study on the cancer-causing effects of alcohol was published in 1903. The study reported a rise in cancer deaths due to alcohol consumption. In the late 1980s, the International Agency for Research on Cancer named alcohol as a known carcinogen and contributor to cancers of the mouth, pharynx, esophagus, liver, and larynx.

health warning label on alcohol wasn’t required until 1988, and it only cautioned pregnant women and warned of the risk of driving or operating heavy machinery after drinking.

The World Health Organization declared alcohol a Class 1 carcinogen in 1990. In 1992, a 35-year review concluded, “With alcohol/beer consumption, the overall conclusion on present evidence is that alcohol, particularly beer consumption, is an etiologic factor for colon and rectal cancer for females and males.”

The warning label on alcohol was not amended to incorporate the new research.

peer-reviewed study published in Drug and Alcohol Review in 2018 concluded: “Major international alcohol companies may be misleading their shareholders about the risks of their products. This may leave the industry open to litigation in some countries, as has happened with the tobacco and, more recently, other industries.”

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Why Do Those Who Don’t Drink Alcohol Have Liver Cancer?

Liver cancer ranks as the fifth most common cancer and has been the third leading cause of cancer death in Hong Kong for years. However, there are still many misconceptions about liver cancer, which can easily affect the process of treatment and recovery.

Dr. Ka Wing Ma, general surgery consultant and clinical director at the Hepatobiliary and Pancreatic Diagnostic and Treatment Centre (HPDTC) at Hong Kong Adventist Hospital (HKAP), Tsuen Wan, Hong Kong, pointed out that in Hong Kong and East Asia, primary liver cancer is mostly induced by chronic hepatitis B. According to the clinical data of the HPDTC at HKAP, more than 90% of liver cancer cases had hepatitis B virus in their bodies.

Other common risk factors for liver cancer include chronic hepatitis C, type 2 diabetes, smoking, obesity, and a history of liver cancer in the family. Excessive alcohol consumption is just one of the high-risk factors.

Continue reading …

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READ MORE: First Patient Injected With Experimental Cancer Killing Virus In New Clinical Trial

More Immunotherapy: Eat These Foods To Starve Cancer Cells To Death

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The Epoch Times

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