Mangaliso Kabulika

THE World Health Organization (WHO) has announced that there is no safe amount of alcohol consumption that does not impact health. 

This revelation challenges the widely-held belief that moderate alcohol intake can have potential health benefits.

Alcohol is a toxic psychoactive and dependence producing substance which causes at least seven types of cancers, including bowel and breast cancer.

It causes cancer through biological mechanisms as it breaks down in the body which means any beverage containing alcohol, regardless of the price and quality, poses a risk of developing cancer

WHO acting unit lead for non-communicable disease management and regional advisor for alcohol and illicit drugs, Carina Ferreira-Borges, said:

“We cannot talk about a so-called safe level of alcohol use. It doesn’t matter how much you drink, the risk to the drinker’s health starts from the first drop of any alcoholic beverage.

“The only thing that we can say for sure is that the more you drink, the more harmful it is or, in other words, the less you drink, the safer it is.

“When we talk about possible so-called safer levels of alcohol consumption or about its protective effects, we are ignoring the bigger picture of alcohol harm in the world.

“Although it is well established that alcohol can cause cancer, this fact is still not widely known to the public in most countries.

“We need cancer-related health information messages on labels of alcoholic beverages, following the example of tobacco products.

“We need empowered and trained health professionals who would feel comfortable to inform their patients about alcohol and cancer risk; and we need overall wide awareness of this topic in countries and communities.”

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