Friday, March 31

The European Parliament ‘pardons’ wine by not linking the risk of cancer with all alcohol consumption

MEPs have decided pardon to wine, beer and cava in a non-binding report on cancer prevention, by approving a series of amendments that come to soften the link between alcohol consumption and the development of tumours. The final result of the vote on the report, non-binding, is scheduled for this Wednesday afternoon, but the amendments that have aroused the most interest within the European Parliament but, above all, outside, in particular among producers of wine. And that the word “wine” was not mentioned and is not mentioned in the report of the European Parliament.

The approved amendments, and voted fundamentally by representatives of wine-producing countries -Southern Europe, France, Spain, etc-, seek to reduce the space to an alleged “criminalization” of wine, as some have said, by deleting, for example, the following sentence: “WHO recognizes that there is no safe level of alcohol consumption with regard to cancer prevention and emphasizes the need to take this into account when designing and implementing policies of prevention”. In other words, according to MEPs, there is a safe consumption of alcohol with regard to cancer prevention.

Furthermore, instead of saying that the European Parliament “remember that alcohol consumption is a risk factor for many types of cancer…”; it is said “underlines than the consumption harmful of alcohol constitutes a risk factor for many types of cancer…”; instead of saying “the study to which the WHO refers recognizes that there isn’t a safe level of alcohol consumption with regard to cancer prevention…”, it is said “the study referred to by the WHO acknowledges that the level plus alcohol safety in regards to cancer prevention is the total absence of consumption…”; and instead of saying “supports the provision of more comprehensive information to consumers by improving the labeling of alcoholic beverages to include health warnings and the introduction of the mandatory indicator of the list of ingredients and nutritional information”, has been voted to read “supports the provision of more complete information to consumers by improving the labeling of alcoholic beverages to include information on moderate and responsible consumption and the introduction of the mandatory indicator of the list of ingredients and nutritional information”.

The report compiles the recommendations presented by the Special Committee to Beat Cancer (BECA), which include facilitating access to medical care and cross-border clinical trials for cancer patients, expanding the use of joint procurement procedures, managing the shortage of cancer drugs, guarantee the “Right to be Forgotten”, as well as guarantee equal access to innovative cancer drugs and treatments. Details on the main calls to action are available here.

Thus, calls for management and prevention plans of the EU are included, as part of the construction of more resilient national health systems, to prevent and address the shortage of medicines, devices, products and personnel in times of health crisis, with a focus on vulnerable groups.

The report supports the goal of a “tobacco-free generation” and calls for, among other things: financing programs that promote smoking cessation; an increase and upward convergence of the minimum excise duties for all tobacco products and their final market price; strict enforcement of the ban on characterizing flavors in tobacco products, and a call on the European Commission to assess which e-cigarette flavors are particularly attractive to minors and non-smokers, and propose their ban, as well as the ban on all characteristic flavors in heated tobacco products and new tobacco products.

MEPs also recall that alcohol consumption is a risk factor for many different types of cancer and call, inter alia: for promoting actions to reduce and prevent alcohol-related harm in the framework of a revised EU strategy on alcohol, including a European zero alcohol strategy for minors; better information to consumers; prohibition of the advertising of alcoholic beverages in sporting events when said events are mainly attended by minors and prohibition of the sponsorship of sport with alcoholic beverages.

The report recalls that the International Cancer Research Center (IARC) classifies ethanol and acetaldehyde from the metabolism of ethanol present in alcoholic beverages as carcinogenic agents for humans, and that it is estimated that in Europe 10% of all cancer cases in men and 3% of all cancer cases in women are attributable to alcohol consumption.

The document also emphasizes the role of a healthy diet in limiting and preventing cancer incidence and recurrence, and that individual cancer risks can be reduced through increased intake of sustainably sourced vegetables and plant-based foods, such as fresh fruit and vegetables, cereals and vegetables.

The need to address “the excessive consumption of meat and ultra-processed products, as well as products with a high content of sugars, salt and fat” is also highlighted; Member States are “encouraged to use pricing policies, such as value-added tax differentiation, and marketing controls to influence demand for, access to, and affordability of low-carbon foods and beverages. saturated fats, trans fats, salt and sugar; supports Member States in revising the relevant provisions to restrict advertising of sweetened beverages and processed food products high in fat, salt and sugar, including advertising in social networks”.