Alcohol causes at least seven types of cancer. But, alcohol’s cancer risk is not a well-known fact among Australians. Currently, only one in five people recognize that alcohol causes cancer, according to a Cancer Council survey. A new campaign says: It is time that Australians were properly informed about this risk so that they can make informed lifestyle choices.

The Cancer Council surveyed 1500 Australians, who consumed alcohol at least two or three times a month. They found the following:

  • Only one fifth of the respondents recognized alcohol as cancer causing.
  • Only 18% knew alcohol can cause breast cancer.
  • Only a quarter knew alcohol can cause throat and mouth cancers.
  • Less than half knew alcohol can cause bowel cancer.

Alcohol has been classified as a group one carcinogen just like tobacco and asbestos for over 30 years. Still, public awareness of alcohol’s cancer risk remains very low. Movendi International has published and continuously updates all the key information about alcohol and cancer.

Alcohol is pervasive, ubiquitous, and often glamorized in Australian society making its cancer causing properties go largely unreflected.

Therefore, Cancer Council will be rolling out a public health awareness advertising campaign to increase Australian’s recognition of alcohol’s cancer risk. The health advertisement originally created in 2010 was not able to reach far due to lack of funding at the time.

The council is now rolling out an advertising campaign on digital platforms in Victoria, Australia to promote the national alcohol guidelines, which were introduced in December 2020. The campaign, named Spread, shows how alcohol can trigger cells to mutate when it spreads through the body.

The new campaign now is well timed for two reasons:

Given the past year, there’s never been a more important time to have a campaign like this,” said Todd Harper, chief executive of Cancer Council Victoria, as per The Sydney Morning Herald.

We’re hoping to see government bodies invest in campaigns like this which we know are really effective in promoting people’s health.”

Todd Harper, chief executive, Cancer Council Victoria

Health professionals support the public awareness campaign about alcohol’s cancer risk. Professor Kate Conigrave, a University of Sydney addiction medicine specialist, says she often has to inform patients of the threat of cancer posed by alcohol. There is no safe limit for alcohol consumption in terms of cancer risk. However, sticking to the the low-risk alcohol use guidelines greatly reduces the risk of developing cancer due to alcohol.

It concerns me because it’s very hard to make informed lifestyle decisions if you don’t know what the information is,” said Professor Michael Boyer, an oncologist and chief clinical officer at Chris O’Brien Lifehouse in Sydney’s Camperdown, as per The Sydney Morning Herald.

Professor Michael Boyer, oncologist and chief clinical officer, Chris O’Brien Lifehouse in Sydney’s Camperdown

Another measure which will increase public awareness about alcohol’s cancer risk is health warning labeling on alcohol products. Recently the improved pregnancy warning labels for alcohol products by the Food Standards Australia and New Zealand (FSANZ) overcame industry opposition. The industry has two years to implement the new labels. Communities are hopeful that the warning label about alcohol during pregnancy will pave the way towards real health warning labeling, including cancer warnings, on alcohol products.

For further reading

New WHO Europe Factsheet: 5 Facts about Alcohol and Cancer

“Lessons from an advocacy success story”

Source Website: The Sydney Morning Herald