Alcohol and Cancer: A Statement of the American Society of Clinical Oncology
ASCO Special Article
Alcohol use is an established risk factor for several malignancies, and it is a potentially modifiable risk factor for cancer. The Cancer Prevention Committee of the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) believes that a proactive stance by the Society to minimize excessive exposure to alcohol has important implications for cancer prevention. In addition, the role of alcohol drinking on outcomes in patients with cancer is in its formative stages, and ASCO can play a key role by generating a research agenda. Also, ASCO could provide needed leadership in the cancer community on this issue.
In the issuance of this statement, ASCO joins a growing number of international organizations by establishing a platform to support effective public health strategies in this area.
The goals of this statement are to:
- Promote public education about the risks between alcohol abuse and certain types of cancer;
- Support policy efforts to reduce the risk of cancer through evidence-based strategies that prevent excessive use of alcohol;
- Provide education to oncology providers about the influence of excessive alcohol use and cancer risks and treatment complications, including clarification of conflicting evidence; and
- Identify areas of needed research regarding the relationship between alcohol use and cancer risk and outcomes.
The need to implement and enforce policies and stop Big Alcohol pink-washing
Alcohol-related cancers are modifiable and preventable. By thus issuing their statement, ASCO joins a growing number of international organizations by establishing a platform to support effective public health strategies to effectively address the link between alcohol and cancer.
The group also opposes “pink washing,” in which alcohol companies drape their products in pink ribbon to enhance sales, a practice it opposes “given the consistent evidence that shows the link between alcohol consumption and an increased risk of breast cancer.”
These policies are, according to the special article:
- Regulate alcohol outlet density,
- Increase alcohol taxes and prices,
- Maintain limits on days and hours of sale,
- Enhance enforcement of laws prohibiting sales to minors,
- Restrict youth exposure to advertising of alcoholic beverages,
- Resist further privatization of retail alcohol sales in communities with current government control,
- Include alcohol control strategies in comprehensive cancer control plans.