‘Any alcohol consumption increases the risk of cancer’

March 14, 2018

Ellen McDonagh with her dietitian Amy Burrowes at Echuca Moama Family Medical Practice

ECHUCA-MOAMA people need greater education about healthy drinking guidelines, according to a recent study from Cancer Council Victoria.

New research has found alcohol harm reduction ads that educate people about low-risk drinking guidelines could be key in helping people reduce their alcohol consumption.

Yet these guidelines are barely known by the public and rarely advertised, according to Cancer Council Victoria chief executive Todd Harper.

“People deserve to know how much alcohol they can drink while keeping their risk of health impacts, like cancer, low, so they can make informed choices about their drinking,” Mr Harper said.

“While guidelines for low risk drinking exist in Australia, community knowledge of the guidelines is poor; too many Australians are either unaware of the recommendations, or they overestimate the amount of alcohol that’s safe to consume without significantly increasing risk of long or short-term harm.”

The 2016 National Drug Strategy Household Survey found 32 per cent of males and nine per cent of females thought they could drink three or more drinks every day without putting their health at risk.

Whereas guidelines state more than two standard drinks a day can increase the risk of cancer and other long-term health problems.

Echuca Moama Family Medical Practice dietician Amy Burrowes said she had seen evidence of this lack of education in the twin towns.

“I ask all my patients about their alcohol intake when I see them, and many living in the area aren’t aware of what the guidelines are as they aren’t advertised well,” she said.

This is a lack of education which Ms Burrowes warned could have deleterious effects.

“Cancer Council of Australia has found convincing evidence that alcohol increases the risk of cancer of the mouth, pharynx, larynx, oesophagus, liver, bowel in men and breast in women,” she said.

“Any alcohol consumption increases the risk of cancer. And this level increases the more that is consumed.”

While Ms Burrowes said she had nothing against a casual drink, she encouraged locals to drink safely and ensure they were aware of Australian standard drink measurements.

“A serving of alcohol frequently differs from a standard drink. For example, for table wine, a standard drink may correspond to 100ml of wine, whereas a typical serve may be 150ml,” she said.

“I am all for enjoying a drink – you will see me having a wine with dinner occasionally, out for drinks with friends or after a netball game.

“However, I am aware of the level to which I can drink safely. Many Australians have a rough idea they shouldn’t be drinking large quantities but struggle to put a figure on what they can consume.

“This is where more advertising may be needed to educate on the risk of drinking alcohol to excess.”

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