THE link between alcohol and cancer has been highlighted in updated guidance for healthcare professionals in Scotland.

The guide, published by Scottish Health Action on Alcohol Problems (SHAAP), notes that drinking alcohol is a risk factor for several cancers.

Around 6.5% of deaths in Scotland in 2015 – the last time the figures were calculated – were attributable to alcohol consumption and more than 28% of these deaths were due to cancer, the guidance states.

It suggests healthcare professionals can help to reduce alcohol-related cancer risks by informing patients about them and providing guidance and support to help people reduce how much they drink. SHAAP chairman Dr Alastair MacGilchrist said: “There is clear evidence that alcohol increases the risk of developing a multitude of cancer types.

“Alcohol harm is one of Scotland’s biggest health issues, and healthcare professionals have an opportunity to inform their patients about the risks between alcohol and cancer and thereby reduce the risk that those patients will develop alcohol-related cancers and other alcohol harms.

“This updated guidance provides healthcare professionals with a summary of the relationship between alcohol and cancer, sets out the patterns of alcohol use and harms in Scotland by age, gender and socioeconomic status, and outlines the different avenues for treatment and prevention of harmful alcohol use.”

SHAAP is a partnership of the Medical Royal Colleges in Scotland and the Faculty of Public Health and is based at the Royal College of Physicians of Edinburgh.