Did you know that alcohol causes seven types of cancer?
When it comes to cancer risk, there is no safe level of drinking. Alcohol is a Group 1 carcinogen—the highest available—this means it is an acknowledged cause of cancer and that even small amounts increase the risk of cancer; particularly of the bowel, breast, mouth and pharynx, liver, larynx, oesophagus and stomach.
Your risk increases with every drink you have, and is the same no matter what type of alcohol is consumed—whether it’s beer, wine or spirits.
So, let’s talk about how you can reduce your risk.
Alcohol causes around 3,500 cancer cases in Australia each year. To reduce your risk of cancer, it’s best to limit your intake of alcohol or—better still—avoid it altogether.
If you choose to drink, Cancer Council recommends following the new National Health and Medical Resource Council (NHMRC) guidelines released in December 2020 which recommends consuming no more than 10 standard drinks per week, and no more than four standard drinks on any one day. Just keep in mind, the less you choose to drink, the lower your risk of alcohol-related harm.
Another reason to avoid or limit alcohol is that consuming alcohol can make it more difficult to maintain a healthy weight as it is high in kilojoules. Being overweight is a risk factor for 13 different types of cancer including bowel, breast (post-menopausal), kidney and liver. This means that not only does drinking alcohol directly increase cancer risk, it can also indirectly increase your risk by making it more difficult to maintain a healthy weight.
Need some tips to reduce your alcohol consumption? Why not try:
- Choosing a non-alcoholic drink such as sparkling water with fresh lemon or lime
- Limiting alcohol to special occasions and avoid binge drinking
- Using water to quench thirst
- Opting for low-alcohol drinks, or dilute alcoholic drinks with sparkling water or juice
- Choosing a mocktail instead- but be cautious of mixers as they can be high in calories
- Setting yourself a limit and stop once you have reached it
- Having alcohol free days each week
- Ordering beer and cider in a smaller glass e.g. a South Australian ‘schooner’ or ‘butcher’ rather than a pint
- Alternating alcohol drinks with non-alcoholic drinks, such as sparkling water
- Finding alternative ways outside of pubs to catch up with friends e.g. go for coffee instead, organise a walk, tennis or cricket match
To find out more about alcohol and cancer risk visit https://www.cancersa.org.au/prevention/lifestyle-factors/alcohol-and-cancer/.