Alcohol Warning Labels Need an Update, Researchers Say

By Roxanne Nelson

Retrieved from

Sept. 1, 2022 – Warning labels on alcoholic drinks need to be updated to spell out details of potential harm in order to make them more effective, two U.S. researchers say.

The current labelling has not changed for 30 years and focuses only on risks during pregnancy and with operating machinery, with a vague statement that alcohol “may cause health problems.”

This is “so understated that it borders on being misleading,” the researchers say.

The science has moved on, and there is now firm evidence of harm. Alcohol has been classified by the International Agency for Research on Cancer as a group 1 carcinogen and has been linked to an increased risk of many cancers. It has also been linked to a wide range of diseases, from liver disease to pancreatitis to some types of heart disease.

Yet the public is mostly unaware of the most serious health risks that are associated with drinking, they point out.

“We believe Americans deserve the opportunity to make well-informed decisions about their alcohol consumption,” said Anna H. Grummon, PhD, of the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health in Boston, and Marissa G. Hall, PhD, of the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill.

“Designing and adopting new alcohol warning labels should therefore be a research and policy priority,” they said.

The two researchers set out their arguments in The New England Journal of Medicine.

“Alcohol consumption and its associated harms are reaching a crisis point in the United States,” they pointed out.

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The opinions expressed in this post are those of the authors. They do not purport to reflect the opinions or views of the FASD Prevention Conversation Project, its stakeholders, or funders.

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