Raise a glass for lowering your cancer risk

This Ocsober, many Aussies have raised non-alcoholic bevvies all month to help support the work of Life Education – and it could also give them a fighting chance of preventing certain cancers. 

Boozing and losing

More and more research is showing a link between drinking alcohol regularly and an increased risk of liver, breast, mouth, larynx (voice box), pharynx (a part of the throat), oesophagus and bowel cancer.

In fact, the Cancer Council estimates roughly 5 percent of all cancers in Australia are linked to the long-term use of alcohol.

While scientists have yet to pinpoint the exact way alcohol causes cancer, here’s what we do know. If you regularly have:
  • 1-2 drinks a day, this can increase your risk of breast cancer; and women who regularly drink more than four drinks per day are 1.5 times more likely to develop breast cancer than those who don’t drink!
  • 3 or more drinks a day, this level of drinking increases your risk of liver cancer, likely related to damage it does to your liver tissue over time. 
  • 4 or more drinks a day, this amount can raise the risk for bowel cancer by 1.4 times compared with non-drinkers. It also makes you 2-3 times more likely to develop oral, pharyngeal, laryngeal and oesophageal cancers; add in smoking, and your increase of these cancers shoots up further.

What do the guidelines say?

beers in an ice bucket
There is currently no evidence to suggest there is a safe level of drinking when it comes to your health. So making changes to your drinking habits now – by being smart about how often and how much you drink regularly - may help to reduce your risk of health issues now and in the future, which can include heart disease and type 2 diabetes as well as the cancers listed above.

Given that the risk rises with increased alcohol intake, if you do choose to drink, the National Health and Medical Research Council recommends no more than two standard drinks a day and no more than four standard drinks on any single occasion.

Tips for responsible drinking

Some of our top tips for drinking alcohol responsibly and mindfully are:
  • Have two or more alcohol-free days every week.
  • Swap every other alcoholic drink for a glass of water.
  • Eat before or while you’re drinking.
  • Set daily and weekly limits, and write down how much you. drink each day to increase your awareness.
  • Try a ‘mocktail’ instead.

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