Alcohol is a known risk factor for cancer and is classified by the World Health Organisation International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) as a Group 1 carcinogen. It is strongly linked with an increased risk of cancers of the mouth and throat (pharynx and larynx), oesophagus, bowel (colon and rectum), liver and female breast. The effect of alcohol on cancer risk is dose dependent, which means that any level of consumption will increase the risk of cancer and the risks increase with higher levels of consumption.
WHO estimates that in 2012 alcohol misuse was responsible for 3.3 million deaths (5.9 per cent) globally and 5.1% of the global burden of disease and injury. A significant portion of these deaths were from non-communicable diseases such as cardiovascular diseases and diabetes (33.4 per cent) and cancers (12.5 per cent). Alcohol consumption is also associated with other significant chronic diseas, illness and injury such as chronic kidney disease, alcohol dependence, and mental illness.
The WHO Global Action Plan for the Prevention and Control of Non-Communicable Diseases (NCDs), adopted in 2013 following the 2011 United Nations Political Declaration on NCDs , proposes that Member States advance the implementation of existing strategies to reduce NCD risk factors. In 2012, the World Health Assembly adopted a mortality reduction target of a 25 per cent reduction in premature mortality from NCDs by 2025, and in 2013, the Assembly adopted an alcohol target of a 10 per cent relative reduction in the harmful use of alcohol.
In the context of the WHO Global Action Plan, the WHO Global Strategy to Reduce the Harmful Use of Alcohol provides a portfolio of interventions to guide Member States and the WHO Secretariat on ways to reduce the harmful use of alcohol. These include legal and regulatory interventions on alcohol affordability, availability and promotion for implementation in each country as part of national policy.
Global strategy to reduce the harmful use of alcohol
Global status report on alcohol and health 2014
Global Information System on Alcohol and Health (GSIAH)
WHO - European Region
Evidence for the effectiveness and cost-effectiveness of interventions to reduce alcohol-related harm (2009)
European action plan to reduce the harmful use of alcohol 2012-2020
European status report on alcohol and health 2014
WHO - Western Pacific Region
Addressing the harmful use of alcohol - A guide to developing effective alcohol legislation (2011)
Regional Plan of Action for the Reduction of Alcohol-related Harm in the Western Pacific (2009-2014)
Regional Strategy to Reduce Alcohol-related Harm (2007)
WHO Western Pacific Regional Strategy to Reduce Alcohol-related Harm: How to develop an action plan to implement the strategy (2009)
- Sondra Davoren, Legal Interventions to reduce alcohol related cancers (2011)
- Allyn L. Taylor and Ibadat S. Dhillon, An international legal strategy for alcohol control: not a framework convention—at least not yet (2013)
- Robin Room, Healthy is as healthy does: Where will a voluntary code get us on international alcohol control? (2013)
- Donald Zeigler, On delaying a Framework Convention on Alcohol Control: Regrettably agreeing but calling for strategic action to accelerate the process (2013)
- Jonathan Liberman, Alternative legal strategies for alcohol control: not a framework convention—at least not right now (2013)
- Dag Rekve, A global frame is already in place (2013)
- Allyn L. Taylor, Ibadat S. Dhillon, Twenty-first century international lawmaking for alcohol control (2013)
- Jenny Chalmers et al, Real or perceived impediments to minimum pricing of alcohol in Australia: Public opinion, the industry and the law (2013)