Sobering news: Ontarians fail to link alcohol with increased cancer risks

26 January 2016


Ontarians incorrectly rank pollution, stress, microwave ovens and mobile phones far above alcohol as perceived cancer-causing agents, with only 28% knowing that consuming alcohol can increase the risk of developing cancer, shows a survey released by the Canadian Cancer Society.

Educating people on ways to reduce their cancer risk is a core Canadian Cancer Society mandate. Alcohol is one of the top three leading causes of cancer deaths worldwide. Last year, an estimated 10,700 cancer diagnoses in Canada were related to alcohol consumption.

“The public generally understands that alcohol poses dangers such as liver damage and diabetes, but our survey highlights the need to tell people that it also poses cancer risks,” says Susan Flynn, Senior Manager of Cancer Prevention for the Canadian Cancer Society, Ontario Division. “Scientific studies show, moderating alcohol consumption to recommended levels will reduce a person’s cancer risk.”

Highlights of the survey include:

  • 60% of Ontario women and 41% of Ontario men exceed the alcohol consumption guidelines recommended by the Canadian Cancer Society.

  • Two-thirds of Ontarians say they are likely to reduce their consumption of alcohol if they learned that drinking alcohol increased their risk of cancer.

The Canadian Cancer Society encourages people to make informed decisions about their health and recommends that if you choose to drink alcohol, women have less than one drink per day and men have less than two drinks per day.

Could you go booze-free for a month?
To help raise awareness about the importance of modifying alcohol consumption, the Canadian Cancer Society is partnering with Clear Heads International to launch Dry Feb™. This fundraiser challenges participants to not have a single drop of alcohol for the month of February while also collecting donations in support of vital cancer research and support services. Dry Feb has been a huge success in Australia, the United Kingdom and New Zealand, raising more than $30 million for cancer charities.

“Dry Feb promotes a powerful message. By going to the extreme and passing on alcohol for an entire month, you can prove to yourself and show others how easy it is to simply moderate consumption,” says Brett Macdonald, CEO of Clear Heads International. “On the fundraising side, Dry Feb works because people are eager to donate just to see if their friend can actually do it. Their donation buys them a month’s worth of fun egging them on.”

Participating in Dry Feb is easy! Simply register at and then collect donations from your friends using a personalized webpage.

Money raised through Dry Feb will fund Canada's most promising cancer research, prevention, vital support services for cancer patients and their families and other important work so that fewer Canadians are touched by the disease.

About the alcohol survey
A web survey was conducted by Leger between June 2 to 9, 2015, among a representative sample of 1,204 Quebecers and Ontarians, who were of legal age to drink alcohol in their province (18 years of age or older in Quebec and 19 years of age or older in Ontario) and who had at least one alcoholic beverage during the past 12 months. Quotas were set by province, with 603 respondents from Quebec and 601 respondents from Ontario.

Using data from Statistics Canada, results were weighted according to gender, age, region, mother tongue, education and presence of minor children in the household in order to ensure a representative sample of the entire population under review. A probabilistic sample of 1,204 respondents is associated to a maximal margin of error of 2.82%, 19 times out of 20.

About Dry Feb™
Dry Feb is an online third-party fundraiser run by Clear Heads International that challenges people to go booze-free for a month in support of the Canadian Cancer Society. It helps participants or, Dry Heroes get healthy and clear their heads while also raising funds for an important cause.  

Clear Heads International has run similar “go booze-free for a month” fundraisers in the United Kingdom, Australia and New Zealand. These events have raised more $30 million dollars (CDN) for cancer charities in these countries.

Dry Heroes are supported by an online community of other participants, providing advice, help and encouragement throughout the challenge. Register today at

The Canadian Cancer Society (CCS) is the only national charity that supports Canadians with all cancers in communities across the country. No other organization does what we do; we are the voice for Canadians who care about cancer. We fund groundbreaking research, provide a support system for all those affected by cancer and advocate to governments for important social change.

Help us make a difference. Call 1-888-939-3333 or visit today.

For more information, please contact:

Camille Beaubien

Senior Manager, Communications

Phone: 416-323-7181