Sunderland doctor’s cancer warning to heavy drinkers

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A WEARSIDE cancer expert today issued an urgent warning about the long-term risks of excessive boozing.

Dr Andy Burns, oral and maxillofacial consultant at Sunderland Royal Hospital, spoke out as new figures reveal a sharp increase in the number of hospital admissions for alcohol-related cancers.

Andy Burns, Consultant Maxillofacial Surgeon at Sunderland Royal.

Andy Burns, Consultant Maxillofacial Surgeon at Sunderland Royal.

Research carried out by Balance – the North East Alcohol Office – shows that the number of male hospital admissions for cancer of the lip, oral cavity and pharynx has more than doubled over the past nine years.

Over the same period, there was also an 88 per cent increase in the number of female hospital admissions for booze-related breast cancer.

The highest percentage increases for breast cancer were seen among the under-45s.

Hospital admissions for all alcohol-related cancer increased by 28 per cent in the region.

Figures also show that deaths from alcohol-related cancers account for one in five of all drink-linked deaths in the North East.

Dr Burns said: “Whilst the most significant risk factor for developing head and neck cancer is smoking, alcohol consumption is the next most important.

“Studies have shown that drinking three or more units of alcohol a week can significantly increase the risk of developing cancer in the head and neck.”

The findings follow the launch of a Balance campaign, which highlights the link between alcohol and seven types of cancer.

Colin Shevills, director of Balance, said: “These figures are extremely worrying. Alcohol is a poison.

“It’s in the same cancer causing group as tobacco smoke and asbestos – we really need to continue to drive this message home.”