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  • Is your alcohol consumption increasing your risk of cancer?

    Is your alcohol consumption increasing your risk of cancer?
    03 July 2019

    This July, thousands of people across the country are making the commitment to give up alcohol and take part in Dry July.  It’s a great initiative—not only does it help you to reduce your own cancer risk, but by fundraising on our behalf, you’ll help fund Cancer Council 13 11 20, our information and support service run by experienced cancer nurses. 

    For many South Australians drinking alcohol is a common pastime. However, what some people don’t realise is that drinking alcohol—even a small amount—increases your cancer risk and the longer you have been drinking for, the greater your risk. 

    A 2015 study commissioned by Cancer Council Australia estimated that 3, 208 of all new cancers (2.8 per cent) diagnosed in 2010 were attributable to alcohol consumption.  

    Drinking alcohol is proven to increase your risk of developing cancers, particularly in the mouth, pharynx, larynx, oesophagus, liver, bowel and breast. It’s also important to note that all types of alcohol increase your risk of cancer—there is no one alcoholic drink that is less dangerous than another. 

    So what is drinking too much?

    Cancer Council SA recommends avoiding or limiting alcohol intake to reduce the risk of cancer. If you choose to drink alcohol, drink within the National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) guidelines of no more than two standard drinks on any day. Better yet, include alcohol free days across the week. 

    Why we need to rethink our drinking this July

    Approximately 1,400 cancers could have been prevented in 2010 if Australians limited their drinking to no more than two standard drinks per day. Drinking above this recommendation places you at high risk of developing chronic disease and some of Australia's most common cancers like bowel and breast cancer. In 2018, one in 13 South Australian adults were categorised as high-risk drinkers, and our middle-aged men and women fare the worst of all age groups (8.5 per cent).

    So if you’re ready to bite the bullet–whether it be turning down the alcohol altogether or simply cutting back, then Dry July is the perfect opportunity. 

    So what is one standard drink?

    Although one schooner of regular beer is equivalent to one standard drink, one regular glass of wine is not.

    One standard drink contains around 10 grams of alcohol and is equivalent to:

    • 220–250 ml alcopop/alcoholic soda (⅔ bottle)
    • 100 ml wine (less than a regular restaurant pour which is 150ml)
    • 60 ml (2 nips) of sherry
    • 30 ml (1 nip) of spirits
    • 425 ml (1 South Australian ‘pint’) of light beer
    • 285 ml (1 South Australian ‘schooner’) of full-strength/regular beer or cider

    8 tips to reduce alcohol intake

    • Have no more than two standard drinks per day.
    • Have at least two alcohol free days every week.
    • Change your drinking habits; set goals to help reduce the amount of alcohol you drink.
    • Sip your drinks slowly.
    • Order beer and cider in a smaller glass, for example a South Australian ‘butcher’ or ‘schooner’ rather than a pint.
    • Alternate alcoholic drinks with non-alcoholic drinks, such as sparkling water garnished with lemon or lime, or a soda, lime and bitters. 
    • Eat some food when you drink. Think of alcohol as something you enjoy in moderation alongside food, rather than on its own. 
    • Try a white wine spritzer (white wine and soda) or a mimosa (sparkling wine and ‘no added sugar’ juice) to dilute alcohol. 

    By giving up alcohol, not only will you experience a number of health benefits, you’ll also be raising money to fund Cancer Council 13 11 20, the essential gateway for members of the community impacted by cancer to access the evidence-based information and support services they need. 

    Last year, 41,000 Australians accessed this essential service. But without government funding, Cancer Council 13 11 20 relies on community support through fundraising initiatives like Dry July to operate, and we hope to have your support this July.

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