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  • Alcohol and cancer—South Australians unaware of the risk

    30 July 2019

    Data released today (30 July) from Cancer Council SA shows that almost two thirds of South Australians do not want to change their drinking habits, and more than half are unaware that alcohol is a risk factor for cancer. 

    Results from a 2018 Cancer Council SA survey on the drinking habits of South Australian adults showed that 58.4 per cent of women and 67.2 per cent of men did not consider alcohol an important risk factor for cancer.  In addition, 65.2 per cent of South Australians did not want to reduce, or look to reduce, their alcohol consumption in the next six months.

    With this week marking the final days of Dry July across the country, Cancer Council SA Community Education Project Officer and Dietitian Nat von Bertouch urged South Australians not to fall back into old habits. 

    “Giving up alcohol for a month is a fantastic achievement, but with just 4.4 percent of South Australians looking to reduce their alcohol consumption in at least the next six months, the problem is in finding ways to change our drinking behaviours in the long term,” she said. 

    “We know that approximately 1,400 alcohol-related cancers could be reduced every year if Australians stuck to the NHMRC guidelines of no more than two standard drinks a day* and that even drinking moderate amounts of alcohol increases the risk of cancers of the mouth, pharynx, larynx, oesophagus, liver, breast and bowel.” 

    “These results confirm that many South Australians are unaware of the long term risks of alcohol consumption and as a result, are not looking to change their behaviours,” she said.  

    In addition, the data showed that one in 13 South Australian adults were categorised as high-risk drinkers, consuming more than two standard drinks per day over the course of an average week, with men more likely to be high-risk drinkers than women. 

    “It’s concerning to see that many South Australians are  not only unaware of the risks associated with alcohol, but are exceeding the NHMRC recommendations of no more than two standard drinks a day, which can have serious health implications in the long term,” she said. 

    With Dry July coming to an end, Ms von Bertouch calls for South Australians to stay on track.

    “For those who have given up alcohol this month, the temptation is to pick up a drink now that Dry July is nearly over,” she said. 

    “Our message is to keep up the good work and make a conscious effort to continue to cut down on your daily alcohol intake, as it will only have positive long term benefits. Dry July is a fantastic initiative to raise awareness about the health impacts of drinking—now it’s up to us to continue to build on those behaviours throughout the year,” she said. 

    For more information on Cancer Council’s alcohol intake recommendations, visit cancersa.org.au/cut-my-risk.


    About the survey 
    The 2018 Cancer Council SA survey contacted 3002 South Australians about their lifestyle, health attitudes and behaviours. A person was classified as a high-risk drinker if they consumed more than two standard drinks per day over the course of an average week.

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