Primary care practitioners show ‘alarming’ lack of awareness of alcohol’s link to digestive cancers

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United European Gastroenterology says many healthcare professionals demonstrate an “alarming lack of awareness of the link between alcohol and digestive cancers”.

United European Gastroenterology (UEG), the umbrella organisation for European societies concerned with digestive diseases, is calling for a dramatic increase in public and healthcare professional awareness of the dangers of alcohol.

In a new report, UEG says there is an “alarming lack of awareness of the link between alcohol and digestive cancers among members of the public and many healthcare professionals”.

“There is a wealth of evidence to confirm the link between alcohol consumption and digestive cancers. However, there is much more to do to convince the public, healthcare professionals and policy makers of the urgent need for change across Europe,” the report, Alcohol and Digestive Cancers Across Europe: Time for Change , states.

Primary care practitioners are best placed to identify at-risk drinkers and either recommend abstinence for high-risk drinkers or to reduce intake to one or less drinks per day, UEG states. Advice to cut back from four or more drinks per day to one or less drinks per day, potentially reduces a person’s risk of colorectal cancer by over 20 per cent. Rather than asking ‘do you drink’ questions, GPs should assess whether the patient is able to abstain and how often they drink, it is advised.

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