More detailed alcohol warning labels could reduce health risks, researchers suggest – Science Daily

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You know that drinking alcohol is not like this The best But how bad is it for your health? After all, two-thirds of adults in the United States report using alcohol at some level.

When we imagine the health effects of drinking, we’re more likely to think of car accidents than cancer. That’s largely because the alcohol industry promotes the idea that alcohol can be good for health, suppressing efforts to educate consumers about the health risks associated with drinking, say two researchers affiliated with the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

as if New England Journal of Medicine In the Attitudes section, co-authors Anna H. Grumon, PhD, and Marissa G. Hall, PhD, propose updating alcohol container warning labels as one strategy to help consumers make more informed decisions about how much to drink.

In the year In April 2022, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention published statistics showing that alcohol consumption is responsible for more than 140,000 deaths per year – that’s more than 380 deaths every day. Covid-19 exacerbated the situation, with alcohol-related deaths increasing by 25% in the first year of the epidemic.

However, a recent national survey found that nearly 70% of US adults do not know that even light or moderate alcohol consumption can increase their risk of cancer.

“Many people are not fully aware of the dangers of drinking alcohol,” said Grummon, the study’s leader and a Gillings alum — now a research scientist in the Department of Nutrition at Harvard University’s TH Chan School of Public Health. “For example, there is now scientific consensus that alcohol increases the risk of several types of cancer, including head and neck cancer, breast cancer, and colon cancer. But two-thirds of Americans are unaware of these risks.”

One strategy to address these knowledge gaps may be to update the warning labels required on alcohol containers. Such warnings are a low-cost, sustainable public health strategy to inform consumers and encourage healthy behaviors.

For example, more than 150 countries require warning labels on cigarette packages, and the policy has contributed to declining smoking rates over the past several decades.

Based on previous research findings, the most effective warning labels appear prominently on the front of the product package, include visual elements such as photos or graphics, and come in a variety of rotating designs so they don’t “get old” to consumers.

The alcohol warning currently used in the US contains none of these elements and was written when there was much less information about the harms associated with alcohol consumption.

“The current U.S. warning label has not been updated in over 30 years and is not well-regarded,” said Hall, senior author of the study and an assistant professor in the Gillings School’s Department of Health Behavior. (She’s also a member of the Lineberger General Cancer Center and a faculty fellow at the Carolinas Population Center.) “Also, the warning says that alcohol ‘may cause health problems,’ a phrase that’s vaguely misleading. The growing evidence of alcohol-related harm is the government’s concern about these He has a duty to inform the citizens of accidents.

The warning label strategy has strong precedent: Remember that two-thirds of American adults — most of us! — Who doesn’t know that alcohol is linked to cancer? Surveys show that two-thirds of Americans support requiring new, health-related warning labels for alcohol products.

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