Almost nine in 10 people are not aware that drinking red wine can increase a person’s chances of getting cancer, a new poll suggests.
World Cancer Research Fund said that many people are not aware of the steps they could take to reduce their cancer risk
The comments come after a new survey found that 87% of British adults are unaware that drinking the popular alcoholic beverage could increase a person’s risk of cancer.
Younger people were more aware of the risks with 27% of 18 to 24-year-olds identifying it as a risk factor, compared with just 6% of people over the age of 55.
The charity also found that three quarters of people are aware of the link between inherited genes and cancer, even though it accounts for less than one in 10 cases.
It said that not drinking alcohol is one of the most important things people can do to reduce their cancer risk, alongside not smoking and being a healthy weight.
Sarah Toule, head of health Information at World Cancer Research Fund, said: “It is very worrying, but not surprising, that so few people know that red wine increases cancer risk when there are so many contradictory messages out there.
“All types of alcohol increase the risk of a number of different cancers so we recommend for cancer prevention that people don’t drink any alcohol.
“In fact, around 21,000 cancer cases could be prevented in the UK every year if no one drank alcohol.
“We know that it can be hard for people to not drink at all so we’d encourage them to be ‘alcohol savvy’ if they do. For example, add a low-calorie mixer to your alcohol and, in between each alcoholic drink, have a glass of water.
“It’s also really important to not binge-drink and to spread your weekly limit of seven drinks over a number of days as well as keeping a few days alcohol-free.”
The charity surveyed 2,000 British adults about whether they knew certain types of product were linked to cancer, for example, red wine or ham.
It said that the latest evidence suggests that the claimed benefits of drinking red wine for heart health are less than previously thought and are outweighed by the harmful effect alcohol has on cancer risk.
Dr Rachel Thompson, head of research interpretation at World Cancer Research Fund, added: “Cancer is a devastating disease and we are working for a world free of preventable cancers. People are aware of some risk factors, such as inherited genes, but not some of the modifiable lifestyle factors that can really make a difference.
“With so many people being diagnosed with cancer, we want people to know what factors are increasing their risk, such as red wine, so that they can make informed choices to help reduce their risk”.