The 4th of February marks World Cancer Day, an initiative by the Union for International Cancer Control (UICC) that aims to raise awareness and highlight prevention, detection and treatment. This year's theme is 'Progress is possible'. The UICC says that a better future is within reach with prevention playing a major part in this mission.
At least one third of cancers are preventable giving us every reason to champion healthy choices and prevention strategies for all. – Union for International Cancer Control
Preventing alcohol-related cancers
In 2010, the Cancer Council Australia estimates that approximately 3,200 cases of cancer were attributable to alcohol use. In 2020 we now have significant evidence to show that reducing the amount and frequency of drinking alcohol reduces the risk of cancer.
In 2018 The University of Sydney researchers undertook an evaluation of the evidence on the health effects of alcohol consumption, this has informed the proposed changes to the new draft of the 'Australian guidelines to reduce health risks from drinking alcohol' from the National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC). Based on reports from clinical trials the researchers found evidence that strengthens the link between alcohol consumption and cancers including breast, liver, pancreatic, colorectal, oesophageal, mouth and throat (pharynx and larynx) cancer. The study found that "the level of risk increases as more alcohol is consumed".
The less you choose to drink, the lower your risk of alcohol-related harm. For some people not drinking at all is the safest option. – National Health and Medical Research Council
In the new draft of the 'Australian guidelines to reduce health risks from drinking alcohol' the NHMRC suggest that for healthy men and women drinking no more than 10 standard drinks per week, and no more than four standard drinks on any one day reduces the risk of harm from alcohol-related disease or injury.
The revised draft of the 'Australian guidelines to reduce health risks from drinking alcohol' is open for public consultation, for further details visit NHMRC.
Need help to keep on track?
Drinks Meter is a free app that provides users with confidential, personalised feedback about their alcohol use based on advice from doctors and current Australian guidelines. It has a range of tools to help people track their alcohol intake, set weekly goals to reduce drinking and use an interactive standard drinks pouring tool. Drinks Meter app also provides referrals to NSW based telephone and coaching services.
Get started by downloading the Drinks Meter app through your app store.
Choose Health. Not Tobacco
According to the Cancer Council Australia smoking and alcohol have a synergistic effect on cancer risk. The combined effects of using alcohol and smoking tobacco significantly increase the risk of developing cancer than the sum of the individual risks from each.
Australia's largest preventable health threat is tobacco smoking. Tobacco smoking contributes to more hospitalisations and deaths than alcohol and illicit drug use combined. It is responsible for one death every four seconds worldwide.
The good news is, like alcohol reduction, health improves from the moment people quit smoking. Within 2 to 12 weeks of quitting, the risk of heart attack is lowered, circulation is better, exercise is easier and lung function is improved. 10 years of quitting lowers the risk of lung cancer to less than half that of a continuing smoker.
Help to quit
Call Quitline on 13 7848 (13 QUIT) for information and advice about quitting, assessment of your nicotine dependence, strategies on preparing to quit and staying quit. The Aboriginal Quitline is also available on 13 7848 (13 QUIT). Run by Aboriginal Advisors, the Aboriginal Quitline is a telephone-based confidential advice and support service.
For free and confidential advice 24/7 call Family Drug Support on
1300 368 186 or Alcohol and Drug Information Service (ADIS) on 1800 250 015. Counsellors are available to provide information, referrals, crisis counselling and support. Or start a
Web Chat with an ADIS counsellor online Monday to Friday, 8.30am – 5pm. ADIS can also provide up-to-date information about service availability in your area during the COVID-19 pandemic.