Nearly 500 adults in the North East are dying each year from cancers due to alcohol.

That is according to figures released as part of a new campaign raising awareness of the direct link between booze and cancer.

Only 1 in 3 people in our region are aware of that link, yet nearly half (47%) of us are drinking more than the guidelines of no more than 14 units a week, the campaign has said.

The shocking stats, which relate to the most recent data for 2019, are revealed by Balance, the region’s alcohol programme aimed at reducing intake, as part of its new ‘Alcohol is Toxic’ campaign backed by Cancer Research UK.

Alcohol increases the risk of at least seven different types of cancer including the breast and bowel, mouth, oesophagus (food pipe), larynx (voice box), pharynx (upper throat), and liver.

483 people died from cancer as a result of alcohol in 2019 in our region, while every two years more than 3,000 people here are diagnosed with alcohol-related cancer.

As part of the campaign, a leading nurse has revealed nearly 10% of breast cancer diagnoses are down to alcohol.

Caroline Tweedie, specialist in breast care said: “I think a lot of women will be shocked by the fact nearly 1 in 10 diagnoses that we see is down to alcohol intake. That would be 70 cancers less a year in our department alone.

“People never forget those words “you have cancer”. It’s like handing over a grenade. Lives just implode.

 “I do think if more women knew the risks around alcohol and cancer, they wouldn’t have that peer pressure. It’s extremely difficult to say I’m not having that extra drink.

“I think if more women knew about breast cancer risk, we would unite and support and inspire one another to drink that bit less and say it’s alright if you don’t want to have another drink.”

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Alcohol is a group one carcinogen just like tobacco and asbestos.

Malcolm Clark from Cancer Research UK added: “The more someone drinks the greater their risk -  cutting down will help to reduce their cancer risk, which is why we welcome Balance's efforts to get that message across.

“The Government should be doing more to reduce alcohol harm, including introducing restrictions on alcohol marketing.

"There are other steps people can take if they are concerned about their cancer risk as well. Not smoking, keeping a healthy weight and eating a healthy, balanced diet are all proven to reduce people's risk.”

Sue Taylor from Balance said: “We are encouraging people in the North East to cut down to reduce their risks of cancer and other conditions such as heart disease and stroke.

“If you are concerned about how much you are drinking, taking more drink-free days, finding out more about units are simple ways to cut down.

“We know that people who are more aware of these risks are more likely to try to cut down and take time off alcohol. But sometimes that is hard – and there is a lot of support in the region for people who are struggling with alcohol.”