The Government of Canada and the Canadian Cancer Society invest in research to inform policies and interventions to reduce alcohol-related harms

News release

April 21, 2022 – Ottawa, Ontario – Canadian Institutes of Health Research

Alcohol is the most commonly used substance in Canada. While its consumption is legal and socially acceptable, alcohol use can lead to significant health and safety harms. In fact, recent data shows that in 2017, alcohol use has led to over 18,000 deaths and 105,000 hospitalizations in Canada alone. Drinking alcohol also increases the risk of several types of cancer.

Today, the Honourable Carolyn Bennett, Minister of Mental Health and Addictions and Associate Minister of Health, announced almost $2 million for research that will inform policies and interventions to reduce alcohol-related harms in Canada. The Government of Canada, through the Canadian Institutes of Health Research, and in partnership with the Canadian Cancer Society, is funding 20 research projects that will evaluate policies, programs and practices that regulate alcohol and that have the potential to impact health.

One of the researchers receiving funding is Dr. Hai Van Nguyen who will work with colleagues at Memorial University of Newfoundland to study the behavioural and health effects of alcohol policy changes during COVID-19 in Canada. Researchers will also examine interventions to prevent, treat, and reduce the harms of problematic alcohol use, as well as the effects of alcohol use and related health and psychosocial on specific populations and determinants of health.

This research will generate data and evidence that will increase our knowledge base on alcohol-related harms and how to prevent and treat them and inform future larger-scale research projects. The Government of Canada is committed to supporting leaders in science, such as these recipients, in their work to support the health of Canadians and develop better, evidence-based public policy and practices. 


“Alcohol use continues to be a significant risk to the health outcomes of individuals, families and communities. Today’s investment will help our government inform policies to prevent and reduce alcohol-related harm, while giving us strategies to better support the health of people across Canada. Congratulations to the researchers, we look forward to putting the results of your important work into evidence-based policy and practices.”

The Honourable Carolyn Bennett
Minister of Mental Health and Addictions

“Memorial University has a record of world-class research that informs real-world decision making and policies. With this funding into Dr. Nguyen’s research, we will gain critical insight into how we can best support the health of Canadians as it relates to alcohol-related harms.”

Joanne Thompson
Member of Parliament for St. John’s East

“Understanding the effects of alcohol on individuals and society is essential to develop appropriate programs and policies to support the health of all people in Canada. CIHR is pleased to support high-quality research that will generate the evidence to advance our understanding of alcohol use, foster alcohol-related research capacity and reduce the alcohol-related harms experienced by groups at increased risk.”

Dr. Samuel Weiss
Scientific Director, CIHR Institute of Neurosciences, Mental Health and Addiction

“Drinking alcohol raises an individual’s risk of developing at least six different types of cancer. Research is critical to guide effective policies and interventions to increase people’s awareness of how alcohol increases the risk of cancer and to reduce alcohol consumption.”

Stuart Edmonds, Executive Vice-President, Mission – Research & Advocacy
Canadian Cancer Society

Quick facts

  • Alcohol is the most commonly used substance in Canada. In 2019, three-quarters of Canadians reported consuming an alcoholic beverage in the past year.

  • Alcohol use may lead to serious health risks. Data from 2017 shows that it led to over 18,000 deaths and 105,000 hospitalizations. 

  • Alcohol use increased during the COVID-19 pandemic. Data from the Chief Public Health Officer’s Report on the State of Public Health in Canada (2020) found that alcohol use rose 14% during the first weeks of the pandemic and an additional 5.2% by May 2020.

  • Drinking any type of alcohol increases the risk of developing head and neck, breast, stomach, pancreatic, liver and colorectal cancers. The Canadian Cancer Society-funded ComPARe study found that if more Canadians limit their alcohol intake, about 44,300 cancer cases could be prevented by 2042.

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Maja Staka
Press Secretary
Office of the Honourable Carolyn Bennett
Minister of Mental Health and Addictions

Media Relations
Canadian Institutes of Health Research

At the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR) we know that research has the power to change lives. As Canada's health research investment agency, we collaborate with partners and researchers to support the discoveries and innovations that improve our health and strengthen our health care system.

About the Canadian Cancer Society
The Canadian Cancer Society works tirelessly to save and improve lives. We fund the brightest minds in cancer research. We provide a compassionate support system for all those affected by cancer, from coast to coast and for all types of cancer. As the voice for Canadians who care about cancer, we work with governments to establish health policies to prevent cancer and better support those living with the disease. No other organization does all that we do to improve lives today and to change the future of cancer forever. Help us make a difference. Call 1-888-939-3333 or visit today.

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