Ireland has second highest rate in the world of cancer and binge drinking, Seanad hears

Huge increases in alcohol-related liver disease among young adults, says Minister

Minister of State for Health Alex White said there should be more emphasis on disease prevention rather than intervention. Photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill

Minister of State for Health Alex White said there should be more emphasis on disease prevention rather than intervention. Photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill

 



Ireland has the second highest rate of cancer in the world, Minister of State for Health Alex White told the Seanad.

He said one in three people in Ireland were likely to develop cancer. There should be more emphasis on disease prevention rather than intervention, the Minister said.

“Healthy lifestyle choices are a key element of creating good health, particularly where cancer is concerned.”

Mr White was speaking as he introduced a debate on the Seanad public consultation committee’s report on lifestyle and cancer. He said 5,200 people died from smoking every year in Ireland, and tobacco use was the leading cause of preventable death in the country.

The ban on tobacco advertising, on the sale of packets of 10 cigarettes and on point-of-sale displays had contributed to a drop from almost 19 per cent in 2002 to 12 per cent in 2010 in the number of 10- to 17-year-olds smoking.

Marc MacSharry (FF) said Ireland was second in the world for binge drinking and believed that “minimum pricing is an absolute must” for alcohol. “It is critical that when we do this the price is set high enough. We all know that, as Christmas approaches, cases of beer will be on sale in local supermarkets for €14.”

Susan O’Keeffe (Lab) highlighted increased rates of obesity and the lack of emphasis in schools on physical activity. “Some time ago we threw out the value of physical education, of literally running around even if it is in an unstructured way.”