E-poster Presentation 2014 World Cancer Congress

Increasing awareness of alcohol as a risk factor for cancer: Approaches taken in Canada (#806)

Robert K Nuttall 1 , Elizabeth Holmes 1 , Bryony Sinclair 1 , Gillian Bromfield 1
  1. Canadian Cancer Society, Toronto, ON, Canada

Background and Context:

The Canadian Cancer Society (the Society) is a national, community-based organization, and one of our strategic priorities is to reduce cancer incidence rates. Alcohol increases the risk of several cancers, yet only one-third of Canadians are aware of this risk. The Society’s drinking guidelines for cancer prevention (less than 1 drink a day for women and less than 2 drinks a day for men) are lower than the low-risk drinking guidelines adopted by Canadian provinces and territories (please see below, under Programme).


To increase awareness that alcohol increases cancer risk and to provide alcohol drinking guidelines for cancer prevention.


Promote simple messaging on reducing alcohol consumption and work with partners to explain the difference between cancer prevention guidelines and public health drinking guidelines.


The Society’s drinking guidelines for cancer prevention are found on our website, cancer.ca. To increase awareness of the link between alcohol and cancer, we integrated our guidelines into our brochure Monthly Tips to Reduce Your Risk of Cancer and our accompanying social media campaign. The Canadian Centre on Substance Abuse (CCSA) produced Canada’s Low-Risk Alcohol Drinking Guidelines to reduce immediate and long-term alcohol-related harm (no more than 2 drinks a day for women and no more than 3 for men). We worked with CCSA to create a fact sheet to explain why these guidelines are different from cancer prevention and to clarify the research around alcohol and cancer risk.

What was learned:

Having 2 drinking guidelines in Canada has led to some confusion among public health professionals about which guidelines to promote. Increasing awareness requires developing tailored messages for different audiences and working in partnerships to promote reduced alcohol consumption.

  1. Canadian Cancer Society. (2014). Alcohol. Available: http://www.cancer.ca/en/prevention-and-screening/live-well/alcohol/.
  2. Canadian Cancer Society. (2013). Monthly Tips to Reduce Your Risk of Cancer: Gradual Changes for Eating Better and Being Active. Available: http://www.cancer.ca/~/media/cancer.ca/CW/publications/Monthly%20tips%20to%20reduce%20your%20risk%20of%20cancer/Monthly-Tips-to-Reduce-Your-Risk-of-Cancer_Eng2013.pdf.
  3. Canadian Centre for Substance Abuse. (2014). LRDG Summary: Cancer and alcohol. Available: http://www.ccsa.ca/Resource%20Library/CCSA-Cancer-and-Alcohol-Summary-2014-en.pdf.
  4. World Cancer Research Fund/American Institute for Cancer Research. (2007). Food, Nutrition, and Physical Activity: A Global Perspective.