BMC Public Health 2018 18:688



Globally, alcohol is causally related to 2.5 million deaths per year and 12.5% of these are due to cancer. Previous research has indicated that public awareness of alcohol as a risk factor for cancer is low and this may contribute to a lack of public support for alcohol policies. The aim of this study was to investigate the relationship between awareness of the alcohol-cancer link and support for a range of alcohol policies in an English sample and policy context.


A cross-sectional survey of 2100 adult residents in England was conducted in which respondents answered questions regarding awareness of the link between alcohol and cancer and support for 21 policy proposals. Principal component analysis (PCA) was used to reduce the 21 policy proposals down to a set of underlying factors. Multiple regression analyses were conducted to estimate the relationship between awareness of the alcohol-cancer link and each of these policy factors.


Thirteen per cent of the sample were aware of the alcohol-cancer link unprompted, a further 34% were aware when prompted and 53% were not aware of the link. PCA reduced the policy items to four policy factors, which were named price and availability, marketing and information, harm reduction and drink driving. Awareness of the alcohol-cancer link unprompted was associated with increased support for each of four underlying policy factors: price and availability (Beta: 0.06, 95% CI: 0.01, 0.10), marketing and information (Beta: 0.05, 95% CI: 0.00, 0.09), harm reduction (Beta: 0.09, 95% CI: 0.05, 0.14), and drink driving (Beta: 0.16, 95% CI: 0.11, 0.20).


Support for alcohol policies is greater among individuals who are aware of the link between alcohol and cancer. At the same time, a large proportion of people are unaware of the alcohol-cancer link and so increasing awareness may be an effective approach to increasing support for alcohol policies.

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