Proposed Law to Require Warning that Alcohol Causes Breast and Colon Cancers

JUNEAU – Today, Representative Andrew Gray introduced House Bill 298, “The Alcoholic Beverages and Cancer Act,” a first of its kind bill to require all alcohol retailers in the state to post cancer warning signs at the point-of-sale stating: “Alcohol use can cause cancer, including breast and colon cancers.”


American Cancer Society researchers have found alcohol use represents the 3rd and 4th leading cause of cancer for women and men, respectively. For some cancers, even light or moderate drinking significantly increases risk. For example, researchers estimate that consuming one standard drink per day is associated with a 4% increase in breast cancer risk and drinking 2-4 drinks per day with a 23% increased risk.


“I want Alaskans to make informed decisions about their health, and I hope that through House Bill 298 the state can thoroughly publicize the well-proven link between alcohol and cancer.,” said Rep. Andrew Gray (D-Anchorage). “As a medical provider myself, I wish every Alaskan knew all of the health harms associated with alcohol, especially its potential to cause common life-threatening cancers.”


Anchorage internal medicine physician Madeleine Grant, MD, explained, “Very few of my patients are aware that alcohol is carcinogenic. Educating Alaskans about this will help to prevent cancers (including common ones, such as breast and colon cancers) and also help decrease healthcare costs for all of us.”


According to The International Journal of Circumpolar Health, Alaska Native persons had the highest documented incidence rate of colon cancer in the world in 2018. A way to reduce these common cancers is to decrease alcohol consumption.


“This is an important step for Alaskan consumers, who have the right to know basic information about all the food and beverage products they purchase-let alone a product that is an addicting carcinogen and happens to be a leading cause of harms, social problems, and healthcare costs in Alaska,” stated Dr. Tim Naimi, Director of the Canadian Institute for Substance Use Research at the University of Victoria.


“House Bill 298 represents an important milestone,” said Thomas Gremillion, Director of Food Policy at Consumer Federation of America. “Cancers caused by alcohol kill tens of thousands of Americans each year. At the same time, survey after survey shows that fewer than half of adults are aware that alcohol increases cancer risk. One survey showed that 10% of adults think drinking wine decreases cancer risk. It does not. Drinking any type of alcohol-even small amounts-increases cancer risk. Laws like Rep. Gray’s will enable more informed drinking decisions, and ultimately save lives.”



Representative Andrew Gray represents House District 20 (Anchorage’s U-MED district) in the Alaska State House. Outside the legislature, he is a physician assistant at Alaska Urgent Care. Previously, he was a PA with the Alaska Army National Gard and the Alaska VA.


Follow the bill’s progress here, or by texting “HB 298” to 559-245-2529

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