Global alcohol producers are deliberately misleading the public and policymakers about cancer risks associated with alcohol, particularly breast and colorectal cancer, to protect profits at the expense of public health — just like Big Tobacco did, say researchers.
Qualitative analysis of all text related to cancer found on websites and in documents from 26 alcohol industry organizations shows that most of the information extensively misrepresents evidence about the association between alcohol and cancer, says Mark Petticrew, PhD, professor of public health evaluation in the Faculty of Public Health and Policy at London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, United Kingdom, and colleagues.
A total of 24 organizational websites contain significant omissions and/or misrepresentations of the evidence linking alcohol to increased risk for many cancers, the study authors say in a report published online September 7 in Drug and Alcohol Review.
“It has often been assumed that, by and large, the AI [alcohol industry] unlike the tobacco industry, has tended not to deny the harms of alcohol,” the investigators write. “Our analysis shows that, on the contrary, the global AI is currently actively disseminating misinformation about alcohol and cancer risk, particularly breast cancer…. The full scale and nature of these activities requires urgent investigation.”