Campaign highlights alcohol link to seven cancers

The festive campaign from Balance.
The festive campaign from Balance.

Northumberland County Council is backing a campaign launched by Balance, the North East Alcohol Office, to raise awareness of the link between alcohol and seven types of cancer in the run-up to the festive period.

Almost one million North Easterners are ignoring Government health guidelines and drinking at levels which are putting them at greater risk of seven types of cancer.

A survey carried out by Balance revealed that almost 2 in 5 of the region’s adults, around 813,000 people, are regularly drinking more than the recommended daily limits. These are two to three units for a woman – no more than a standard 175ml glass of wine – or three to four units for a man, which is a pint of strong lager.

Evidence shows that if you regularly drink above the guidelines the risk of developing cancer is higher than non-drinkers.

However, more than 9 in 10 people in the region who regularly drink above the recommended limits believe they are light or moderate drinkers.

These concerning statistics have led Balance to launch its campaign to raise awareness of the link between alcohol and seven cancers including mouth, pharyngeal (upper throat), oesophageal (food pipe), laryngeal (voice box), bowel cancer, breast and liver.

Many of us often underestimate how much we drink, not realising we’re drinking at risky levels and in turn increasing our risk of developing cancer. Balance’s campaign aims to make people aware of the hidden harms associated with alcohol and encourage people to think about their intake and, if necessary, cut back to help reduce their risk.

Coun Susan Dungworth, cabinet member for adult care and public health at Northumberland County Council, said: “There are lots of risk factors that contribute to cancer, but there is also a proven way to cut your risk of cancer – cut back on the amount of alcohol you drink. More than 800,000 North Easterners are increasing their risk of cancer by drinking above the recommended limits. It's never too late to stop."

The campaign will see a hard-hitting advert aired on television screens over a four-week period from Monday. The advert features a woman enjoying lunch and a glass of wine with her partner when she spills some of her drink on her top. The stain changes to show a growing tumour on her breast.

Visit for more information and to find out more about Balance and the campaign visit and @BalanceNE and #7cancers on Twitter.