Friday, November 17 marked the 2nd Annual Caribbean Alcohol Reduction Day under the theme, “Drink Less, Reduce your Cancer Risk.”
This awareness day has been organized by the Healthy Caribbean Coalition (HCC) with the support of the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO), the Caribbean Public Health Agency (CARPHA) and the Caribbean Community (CARICOM).
The harmful use of alcohol, along with tobacco use, unhealthy diet and physical inactivity, is recognized as one of four major common risk factors for Non-Communicable Diseases (NCDs), the HCC says.
HCC adds that, yet alcohol has received comparatively less attention than the other three risk factors. Alcohol contributes to cancer, liver and heart disease, mental illness, violence, accidents and injuries.
Alcohol consumption causes many cancers including: Mouth cancer, Pharyngeal cancer (upper throat), Oesophageal cancer (food pipe), Laryngeal cancer (voice box), Breast cancer, Bowel cancer, and Liver cancer.
Globally the harmful use of alcohol is linked to 3.3 million preventable deaths annually. Excessive drinking of alcohol is a major health risk, occurring particularly increasingly among Caribbean youth resulting in alcohol related violent deaths among the top five causes of death in the region and the commonest cause of death among young men.
Young women are especially vulnerable; alcohol consumption disproportionately increases the risk of breast cancer between menarche and first birth.
The Collective Prevention Services (CPS), a department in the Ministry of Public Health, Social Development and Labour (Ministry VSA), calls on the community to minimize and monitor the contributing factors to their risks that may lead to cancer and increase their awareness and alertness on the risks of excessive alcohol consumption and other risk factors that may lead to cancer and other NCDs according to available health information. It is recommended to take steps in monitoring and managing one’s intake and consumption that leads to living a healthy life – apply healthy lifestyle behaviours to minimize one’s risks of NCDs particularly cancer.
The HCC is a regional network of Caribbean health Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs) and civil society organizations with the remit to combat chronic diseases (NCDs) and their associated risk factors and conditions.
HCC membership presently consists of more than 65 Caribbean-based health NGOs and over 55 not-for-profit organisations and, in excess of 200 individual members based in the Caribbean and across the globe.