The number of Wigan people diagnosed with alcohol-related cancers has rocketed by almost a third in a decade, worrying new figures reveal.
Health experts say alcohol increases the risk of diseases such as liver, colorectal, breast or oral cancer even if it’s consumed in small amounts.
New NHS data shows that 380 people had some kind of cancer linked to drinking between 2015 and 2017 – 23 per cent more than 10 years ago.
That’s a rate of 41 cases per every 100,000 people aged 16 or over living in the area.
Katie Patrick, Cancer Research UK’s health information officer, said drinking alcohol increases the risk of cancer whether it is consumed all in one go or spread throughout the week.
She said: “We need to keep raising awareness of the link between alcohol and cancer, so to give us a helping hand, all alcohol labelling should highlight it.
“Alcohol gets in to our blood stream and can cause damage all around the body. This doesn’t mean everyone who drinks alcohol will develop cancer.
“But when we look at the whole population, people who drink alcohol are more likely to develop cancer than people who don’t.
“No matter how much or how often you drink, cutting down reduces your risk. Think about having more drink free days, or switching up your social activities to things that don’t involve alcohol.”
Alcohol-related cancers affect men more in Wigan – 44 per every 100,000 men aged 16 or over were affected, while it was 38 per every 100,000 women.
Across England, 58,200 people had the diseases in 2015-17, a rate of 38 cases per every 100,000 people aged 16 or over.
That is higher than a decade ago, when the proportion was 36 and there were 47,380 cancer patients.
Prof Roger Williams, director of the Institute of Hepatology, said the statistics for England are “worrying” and proposed setting a minimum price per unit of alcohol to curb drinking.
He said: “This is happening because alcohol consumption among the population has increased and this is linked to the fact that the costs of alcoholic drinks proportionally have fallen.
“Setting a minimum alcohol price is a highly effective way of dealing with the problem. In Canada, they had a 14 per cent drop in emergency admissions and eight per cent drop in mortality in the first 12 months after setting this minimum.”
According to the NHS, alcohol misuse is the biggest risk factor for death, ill-health and disability among 15 to 49-year-olds in the UK, and the fifth biggest risk factor across all ages.