Alcohol causes cancer


Like tobaco alcohol is a group one carcinogen. Evidence now shows alcohol is a direct cause of at least seven different types of cancer, including bowel, breast, mouth and throat cancer. There is “no safe amount” of alcohol for health – any level of regular drinking increases the risk.

But public awareness is low. Only 1 in 3 people in the North East and 1 in 10 nationally are aware alcohol causes cancer.

Alcohol Causes Cancer” is part of a long term strategy to raise awareness of the risks from alcohol as a product and a substance, to make people think about their drinking patterns and take steps to cut down.

The graphic and iconic campaign first launched in 2014 and has featured across television, catch-up TV, radio, digital display and Facebook with acclaim and coverage nationally and internationally.

Alcohol Causes Cancer is based on extensive insight among North East drinkers and evidence internationally that the link to cancer is the message most likely to encourage people to cut down.

Watch our TV ad

Our latest phase of the campaign ran in February 2023 as the World Health Organisation declared there is “no safe amount” of alcohol for health with the risks of cancer starting from the first drop.

Cancer Research UK warns that over half a million people in the UK can expect to develop cancer by the year 2040. Around 17,000 people in the UK were diagnosed with an alcohol-related cancer in 2020, or 1 in 25 cases.

The campaign is branded with the NHS logo and has been supported by Cancer Research UK, with a suite of resources for partners.

People are encouraged to visit our campaign website to find advice, local support, tips and apps to cut down. The site has now had over half a million visits since launch.


“Alcohol Causes Cancer” was launched following extensive testing with people who are drinking alcohol in the North East, especially those drinking above the limits.

Our most recent population-wide evaluation survey in 2021 found:

  • 64% people in the North East recalled the campaign – 77% of those who recalled it had seen the TV advert at home
  • 20% had seen or heard news coverage
  • 33% recalled digital and social
  • 84% found it “important to have campaigns like this” and 72% said it caught their attention
  • 42% said it made them feel they should monitor how much they drink,  37% said it made them feel they should cut down and 32% were more concerned as a result

And almost half took action with:

  • 17% cut down how often they drank
  • 13% cut down on how much they drank
  • 13% started monitoring alcohol units
  • 31,000 visits to

Over ¼ who saw the campaign were significantly more motivated to take time off alcohol for Dry January and it is no coincidence that the North East consistently sees the highest sign ups in England.

We also engaged with hospital healthcare professionals who said the campaign had made alcohol a bigger priority.

Keep cancer risks low urges new alcohol campaign



We took our stand out to hospitals and supermarkets in 2019