Today is the last day of FebFast, where many Australians give up alcohol for the month of February in support of disadvantaged young people aged 12-25.
YourLifeChoices publisher Kaye Fallick has taken up the challenge for the month and she is definitely looking forward to tomorrow.
New research, however, may give FebFasters pause to consider changing their drinking habits permanently.
According to statistics from the National Alcohol Indicators (NAI) project, conducted by the National Drug Research Institute (NDRI) at Curtin University, an estimated 5785 Australians aged 15 and over died from alcohol-attributable causes in 2015.
Cancer was responsible for 2106 (36 per cent) of those deaths while injuries, cardiovascular diseases and digestive diseases were the next leading cause (17 per cent, about 1000 deaths each).
Breast cancer (18 per cent) and liver disease (15 per cent) were the biggest killers among women. Among men, liver disease (18 per cent) and bowel (colorectal) cancer (10 per cent) were the most common conditions caused by alcohol.
“This research shows that in Australia, one person dies every 90 minutes on average, and someone ends up in our hospitals every three-and-a-half minutes, because of preventable conditions caused by alcohol,” said NDRI Alcohol Policy Team Leader Professor Tanya Chikritzhs.
“On top of the 2000 people who died from alcohol-attributable cancer, nearly 13,000 were hospitalised, and a large proportion of these cancers are related to low or moderate drinking levels. Risk begins from your first drink, and the more you drink the higher your risk.
“We understand much more now about the link between alcohol and cancer than we did five or 10 years ago, and that knowledge continues to grow.”
Terry Slevin, Education and Research Director at Cancer Council WA, said: “It is likely most people will be quite shocked to learn that more than one third of alcohol-related deaths are due to cancer.
“We rarely see people with a cancer diagnosis link their drinking to the disease. Personal stories, such as ‘my smoking caused my cancer’, are powerful in getting across the importance of changing our behaviour for health reasons.
“We have a long way to go to embed the notion that drinking alcohol genuinely increases risk of cancer and death.”
Have you changed your alcohol habits to embrace a healthier lifestyle? What benefits have you witnessed?