Law Requiring Warning that Alcohol Causes Breast and Colon Cancers Passes the Alaska State Legislature

Juneau, AK — The Alaska State Legislature passed Representative Andrew Gray’s “Alcoholic Beverages and Cancer Act” today, 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.” This Act was passed as part of House Bill 189, sponsored by Representative Jesse Sumner (R-Wasilla).


American Cancer Society researchers have found alcohol use represents the 3rd leading cause of cancer. 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 the language in House Bill 189 the state can thoroughly publicize the well-proven link between alcohol and cancer,” stated 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.”


Past President of the Alaska Academy of Family Physicians, Shawn Vainio, 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.”


“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 Tim Naimi, MD, Director of the Canadian Institute for Substance Use Research at the University of Victoria.


“The Alcoholic Beverages and Cancer Act 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 working in Urgent Care. Previously, he was a PA with the Alaska Army National Guard and the Alaska VA.

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