Every West Australian has a right to know how to keep healthy and well. And people especially have a right to know if the products they are using can cause them harm.
Alcohol is harmful to health, including as a cause of cancer. Yet, many people in our communities are not aware of the range and magnitude of the harms caused by alcoholic products, particularly when it comes to alcohol and cancer.
A recent study commissioned by Cancer Council WA, led by Associate Professor Michelle Jongenelis from The University of Melbourne, found that only 54% of WA adults are aware that alcohol use is a cause of cancer.
The study results paint a stark picture: more than 45% of adults in Western Australia are unaware of the fact that alcohol use can lead to cancer. And 90% are not aware that even small amounts of alcohol use increase the risk of cancer.
Our communities are much more aware of other harms from alcohol. For example, 89% of WA adults from the survey were aware that alcoholic products can cause liver disease.
This knowledge gap is particularly concerning. The world-leading cancer agency – the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) – has classified alcoholic products and the chemical present in these (ethanol) as a Group 1 carcinogen, which means there is no doubt that alcohol causes cancer.
Decades of research show that When the body breaks down alcohol, it is converted to acetaldehyde, a highly toxic chemical and a Group 1 carcinogen. Acetaldehyde damages DNA in cells and stops them from repairing the damage. This can build up and cause irreversible damage, which can lead to cancer.
Sadly, in Western Australia, on average three people die from cancer caused by alcohol each week and over 1000 are hospitalised each year.
These findings underline the importance of our communities having access to honest, reliable and accurate information about the risks of alcohol use.
Every West Australian has a right to know how to keep healthy and well.
Alcohol products are heavily promoted yet alcohol companies often downplay the harm they can cause to our health. Alcohol companies spend millions of dollars every year telling people to drink, ignoring the fact that their products fuel harms such as cancer.
To cut through the spin, here are some tips on what we can do to reduce the harms from alcohol.
The less alcohol you drink, the lower your risk of cancer will be.
If you drink alcohol, we recommended you stay within National Health and Medical Research Council low risk drinking guidelines:
- Healthy adults should drink no more than 10 standard drinks a week and no more than four standard drinks on any one day to reduce the risk of alcohol-related disease or injury. The less you drink, the lower your risk of harm from alcohol.
- Children and people under 18 years should not drink alcohol to reduce the risk of injury and other harms to health.
- To prevent harm from alcohol to their unborn child, women who are pregnant or planning a pregnancy should not drink alcohol. For women who are breastfeeding, not drinking alcohol is safest for their baby.
Cutting back on alcohol is not only good for your long-term health but it can also help you sleep better, boost your mood, find more time to do the other things you enjoy, and much more!
For more information
- Email our Alcohol Programs team email@example.com.
- Follow us on Twitter @AlcoholPolicyWA to keep up to date on our activities and key policy issues.
- Find tips, strategies and advice to help you reduce your drinking on the Think Again website.
- Learn more about alcohol and cancer risk.
- Try some delicious LiveLighter non-alcoholic recipes.