A landmark study has found Australians who have just one drink a night are ten per cent more likely to develop cancer.
Drinking as little as seven standard drinks a week – the equivalent to a glass of wine or middy of beer – significantly increases the risk of eight cancers, including of the breast and mouth.
The study was led by Cancer Council researcher Dr Peter Sarich and published in the British Journal of Cancer.
Australians are more likely to develop alcohol-related cancer than other nationalities, drinking an average of 50 per cent more than people across the globe, it found.
A new landmark study has found that Australians who have just one drink a night are ten per cent more likely to develop cancer (Stock)
ONE STANDARD DRINK
Red and sparkling wine – 100mL
Light beer – 425mL
Mid-strength beer – 375mL
Full strength beer – 285mL
Spirits – 30mL
Cider – 285mL
Source: National Health and Medical Research Council
Thirty per cent of mouth cancers in Australia are linked to alcohol, as well as one in five cases of female breast cancer.
The study looked at Australians over 45, and found 16 per cent of Australian adults consumed more than two drinks a day.
Those people are around 20-25 per cent more likely to develop cancer.
The older people get, the greater the risk of drinking alcohol.
Women in their 50s are the group most likely to develop alcohol-related cancers because their bodies are less able to process booze than males.
While health campaigns focus on youth binge-drinking, the report found alcohol is harmful to older people who were often unaware of the dangers of drinking.
‘It is important to target this population given evidence that more than half of risky drinkers aged over 50 years in Australia do not perceive their level of drinking to be harmful, and identify as light, occasional or social drinkers,’ the study said.
Authors also warned binge-drinking, regardless of the amount consumed, could increase cancer risk.
‘Previous studies have suggested that a heavy episodic “binge” drinking pattern … may increase cancer risk, independent of the overall amount of alcohol consumed,’ they said.
On average, Australians get drunk 31 times a year, only behind Scotland and England, where people are inebriated for 33.7 and 33.8 days respectively.
Just one glass of wine a day will increase cancer risk by 10 per cent
Addiction and alcoholism in Australia
* Around one in 20 Australians struggle with a substance use problem or addiction each year, but only one in four seek help.
* If you drink a lot of alcohol, you might become dependent on it to make you feel good. Your drinking behaviour could be harmful and a form of substance abuse.
* You or someone you know might be drinking too much if they:
– have a strong urge to drink
– cannot control how much they drink
– feel physical effects like nausea, sweating, shakiness and anxiety if they stop after a period of heavy drinking
– need to drink more over time to get the same good feeling
– drink while alone, or hide alcohol from members of the household
– struggle with work, education or relationships for no obvious reason
– lie about how much they drink
– drink early in the day or are anxious about when they will be able to drink
– forget what they said or did while they were drinking
* If you drink too much alcohol, you are at increased risk of illnesses such as heart and liver disease, cancer, diabetes and damage to the brain.
* It can also have a bad effect on those around you as it is a key player in car accidents, family violence and crime.
* The most important starting point for treatment is to talk to your doctor about how to control your alcohol consumption.