06 November 2012
With Melbourne Cup festivities in full swing, Cancer Council SA is encouraging punters to enjoy the day in moderation and make a commitment to better health.
Melbourne Cup may be Australia’s biggest race day, but for many it is also a day for over-indulgence and excessive drinking.
“There is no doubt about it; Australia has a very dominant drinking culture and Melbourne Cup day is a prime example of the way Australians commonly link alcohol with important events and celebrations,” says Professor Brenda Wilson, Cancer Council SA Chief Executive.
“We aren’t talking about celebrating with the odd glass or two of wine; we’re talking about the practice of drinking excessively on a regular basis.
“Alcohol is a class 1 carcinogen and a known risk factor for cancer and a range of other health conditions, so people need to take this into account when they are drinking alcohol and make a conscious, informed decision about their alcohol consumption.
“Melbourne Cup day is a timely reminder for people to consider their alcohol consumption and think about how they might look to reduce it for better overall health.”
The results of a recent Cancer Council survey show an increasing number of South Australians are aware of the link between alcohol and cancer however the bad news is that few are modifying their alcohol behaviour to reduce their cancer risk.
In 2011, 39% of South Australians perceived alcohol as an important risk factor for cancer, but only 13% reported reducing or intending to reduce their alcohol consumption.
“Fortunately, there is a lot of momentum growing between governments and health groups to increase the community’s understanding of both the health and social harms associated with excessive alcohol consumption,” says Professor Wilson.
“Supporting sporting codes to ditch alcohol sponsors and the introduction of mandatory product labelling for pregnant women are just two recent government initiatives on alcohol that have been a step in the right direction.”
Cancer Council recommends that to reduce the risk of cancer, people should limit their consumption of alcohol, or better still avoid alcohol altogether. For people who choose to drink alcohol, the National Health and Medical Research Council recommend no more than two standard drinks per day.
- It is estimated that long-term, chronic use of alcohol contributes to over 5000 cases of cancer in Australia each year.
- There is convincing evidence that alcohol use increases the risk of cancers of the mouth and throat, bowel (in men) and breast (in women), and probable evidence that it increases the risk of bowel cancer (in women) and liver cancer.
- There is a dose-response relationship between alcohol and cancer risk for men and women, with studies showing that the risk of cancer increases with increasing consumption of alcohol on a regular basis.