Australasian Science: Australia's authority on science since 1938

Informed consent: why some foods should carry a cancer risk warning

By Clare Collins

It’s time to begin making consumers aware of the cancer risk associated with regular consumption of particular foods and drinks through front-of-pack warning labels.

The full text of this article can be purchased from Informit.

The evidence that smoking causes lung cancer is definitive. It took a few decades, but cigarette packs now carry prominent health warnings to alert us to this risk.

When it comes to dietary patterns, convincing evidence collated by the World Cancer Research Fund also shows that regular consumption of some foods and drinks increases the risk for specific cancers.

It’s time to begin making consumers aware of the cancer risk associated with regular consumption of particular foods and drinks, through front-of-pack warning labels.

Snapshot of cancer in Australia

It is true that the absolute risk of developing cancer is low. Last year around 120,000 new cases of cancer were diagnosed in Australia, from a population close to 23 million.

But put another way, before the age of 75 your lifetime risk of being diagnosed with cancer is one in three for males and one in four for females. Cancer is now the leading cause of disease and injury in Australia, accounting for the loss of over 550,000 years of life due to ill health, disability or early death.

The most commonly diagnosed cancers last year were prostate (18,560 cases),...

The full text of this article can be purchased from Informit.