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Art raises awareness of alcohol and cancer links

#7cancers body art

#7cancers body art

Posted 30/06/16

The links between alcohol and cancer were highlighted in a thought-provoking way, as eye-catching body art paraded through the streets of Newcastle.

The visuals were used to highlight at least seven areas of the body which evidence shows can be affected by alcohol-related cancers. The activity used real ‘bodies’ to reinforce its message and was part of an awareness-raising campaign launched this week by Balance, the North East Alcohol Office.

The campaign includes a re-run of the hard-hitting ‘tumour’ advert, which shows a man drinking a glass of lager, only to find an object in the bottom of the glass, which turns out to be a tumour.

Supported by Cancer Research UK, it follows the first review of the alcohol drinking guidelines in 20 years, led by the Chief Medical Officers across the UK and informed by a comprehensive review of the latest evidence by a group of leading, independent experts.

Drinking alcohol increases the risk of at least seven different types of cancer, including cancers of the mouth and throat, bowel and breast cancer in women. Most recent data shows that more than one quarter (27%) of all new cancer cases registered in the North East – some 4,200 per year – were made up of these cancer types.

Public awareness of the links between alcohol and cancer remain low. A recent Cancer Research UK study, carried out by Sheffield University, found only around one in 10 people mentioned cancer when asked which health conditions they thought could result from drinking too much alcohol.

The campaign will help the people of the North East keep their risks low, by encouraging them to drink within the new recommended guidelines of 14 units of alcohol per week for both men and women.

Colin Shevills, Director of Balance, the North East Alcohol Office, said: “The body art activity today was used to help raise awareness of the links between alcohol and at least seven types of cancer. We used real bodies so people could visualise the areas of the body which can be affected by alcohol-related cancers.

“There are many things in life we have no control over, yet we can do something about how much we choose to drink.

“Our campaign is about making people aware of the risks that can arise from drinking alcohol, even at low levels of consumption, with around 60 different medical conditions linked to alcohol. We know that many people consider themselves moderate drinkers when actually, research shows we often underestimate how much we’re drinking. There are simple steps we can all take to cut back and it’s our hope that we can encourage everyone to just think about what they’re putting into their bodies and make informed choices about how much they drink.”

Alison Cox, Cancer Research UK’s director of prevention, said: “We're pleased to lend our support to Balance's campaign. The campaign comes at a crucial time when public awareness of the links between alcohol and cancer is still worryingly low.

“Over the four weeks, the campaign is set to reinforce new guidelines issued by the UK Chief Medical Officer earlier this year, following the first comprehensive review of the evidence in 20 years. The evidence shows that the risk of developing a range of illnesses, including cancer, increases with any amount of alcohol you drink. We believe it's vital to equip people with all the information they need to make informed choices about the levels they drink and this campaign supports just that.”

The Balance campaign is linked to a dedicated microsite which signposts people to the NHS Drinks Tracker, a tool they can use to see how much they’re drinking and receive advice on how to take steps to cut back.

Throughout the duration of the campaign, Balance’s on street teams will also be visiting hospitals and shopping centres around the North East, to hand-out unit glasses which help people measure their drinks, along with information to encourage people to think about the choices they’re making and reduce their alcohol consumption for the benefits of their health.

For more information about Balance’s alcohol and cancer campaign and to see the TV advert, visit