WHO defends that alcoholic beverages include risks such as cancer on their labeling

The Regional Office for Europe of the World Health Organization (WHO) has given its support for alcoholic beverages to include on their labeling the risks associated with their consumption, such as the development of cancer.

“The harms of alcohol affect us all: families, communities and society. Instead of urging people to ‘drink responsibly’, we should raise public awareness of the range of harms associated with alcohol consumption. WHO has been advocating for a long time for a complete labeling of alcoholic products,” said Carina Ferreira-Borges, regional advisor for Alcohol, Illicit Drugs and Prison Health for WHO Europe, in a statement.

This has been pronounced by the WHO after Ireland has announced that it will be the first country of the European Union (EU) that will guarantee that, from 2026, all alcoholic products will carry a label on the health risks derived from the consumption of alcohol, including warnings about the risks of developing cancer.

“We commend Ireland for its progressive approach in prioritizing public health and setting a precedent in the EU with the introduction of mandatory alcohol labelling,” Ferreira-Borges said.

Thanks to this regulation, the labels of alcoholic products in Ireland will include important information, such as caloric content and grams of alcohol. These labels will also prominently display warnings about the risks associated with drinking alcohol during pregnancy, as well as the dangers of liver disease and cancers caused by alcohol.

Ireland will be the second in the world, after South Korea, to introduce cancer warnings on alcoholic products. Irish regulations set out detailed specifications for the size, color and other design elements of health warnings, ensuring the visibility of the message. It also requires the provision of similar health information in licensed premises.

Alcohol consumption causes more than 200 conditions and diseases, including 7 types of cancer. In the EU, light to moderate levels of alcohol consumption were responsible for almost 23,000 new cancer cases in 2017, almost half of which were female breast cancers.

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“The medical evidence is clear that a cancer risk applies to even lower levels of alcohol consumption,” said Ireland’s Secretary of State for Public Health, Welfare and National Drug Strategy Hildegarde Naughton.

According to the Irish health authorities, the decision to introduce mandatory health labeling on alcoholic products was taken due to “alarming statistics” on alcohol-related harm in Ireland, combined with “low awareness” among the Irish population. about the health risks associated with alcohol consumption.

The Irish Health Survey, which is conducted in Ireland each year with more than 7,000 respondents, showed that 7 percent of respondents believed it was safe to consume a small amount of alcohol during pregnancy and nearly 80 percent were unaware of the risks. diseases such as breast cancer. People between the ages of 15 and 24 tended to be less aware of the risks associated with alcohol consumption than other age groups.

“This law is designed so that all of us, as consumers, have a better understanding of alcohol content and the health risks associated with its consumption. With that information, we can make an informed decision about our own alcohol consumption,” said the Irish Health Minister Stephen Donnelly.

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