Skip to content

New Cancer Council SA research released today shows high-risk drinking is on the rise in South Australian middle-aged women aged 45-64 years of age, a concerning trend which can have long term health impacts.

The latest data shows that in South Australia 7.8 per cent of middle-aged women are engaging in high-risk drinking behaviours compared to 3 per cent of non-middle-aged women.*

Australia’s current National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) alcohol guidelines recommend no more than two standard drinks per day. It is also recommended to have at least two alcohol free days every week.

Cancer Council SA Dietitian Nat von Bertouch said alcohol consumption is a key risk factor for a range of cancers, including breast cancer.

“Even drinking moderate amounts of alcohol increases the risk of cancers of the mouth, pharynx, larynx, oesophagus, liver, breast and bowel. The more you drink and the longer you have been drinking, the greater the risk.”

“Your risk of cancer is the same for all types of alcohol consumed, including beer, wine and spirits, which is why it’s so concerning that women in this age group are not only drinking above the recommended average, but at more than double the rate of any other age group,” she said.

The data also showed that 30.3 per cent of South Australian women aged 30 and over were aware that drinking alcohol was an important risk factor for cancer, compared to 42.1 per cent of women under 30 years of age.

“This data shows that not only are middle-aged women drinking at concerning amounts, those over 30 are also unaware of the risks their drinking behaviour.”

“We know that increased alcohol consumption in women has a number of long-term impacts, including increased cancer risk. Regular alcohol consumption can also make it more difficult to maintain a healthy weight, which can indirectly increase your breast cancer risk.”

“International research shows that women who drink heavily are estimated to have a 60 per cent higher cancer risk compared to non-drinkers.”

“With October marking Breast Cancer Awareness Month, it’s important for women to take active steps in reducing their breast cancer risk. Avoiding or limiting alcohol, together with maintaining a healthy weight and being physically active can reduce your breast cancer risk by 40 per cent,” she said.

“With breast cancer the most common cancer amongst South Australian women, we can all take small steps that can make a huge difference.”

For more information on how to cut your breast cancer risk visit the Cancer Council SA website.

Interviews with Nat von Bertouch can be arranged on request.

* The 2019 South Australian Population Health Survey analysed drinking trends amongst South Australian women across different age groups and defined high risk drinking as more than 14 standard drinks a week.

Notes to editor:

  • Breast cancer is the most common cancer diagnosed in South Australian women.
  • 1,396 South Australian women were diagnosed with breast cancer in 2017.
  • 40 per cent of breast cancers in Australia can be prevented by being a healthy weight, being physically active, and limiting or avoiding alcohol consumption.