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Cancer Council welcomes new drinking guidelines as an opportunity to inform the public of health impacts of alcohol

Tuesday 8 December, 2020

New alcohol guidelines have been released by the National Health and Medical Research Council today giving the Australian public advice on how to reduce their risk of harm from disease or injury caused by alcohol.

The guidelines advise that to achieve this reduction in risk healthy men and women should drink no more than 4 standard drinks on any one day but that over a week this should not amount to more than 10 standard drinks.

These recommendations come on the same day Cancer Council Victoria reveals new data from a representative sample of Victorian drinkers, showing that among those who drank alcohol in the past week, around 4 out of 10 exceeded the guideline of having no more than 10 standard drinks in a week.

Cancer Council Victoria CEO, Mr Todd Harper, welcomed the new recommendations but said the new data underlined the importance of ensuring the public were educated on the harms of alcohol.

“The data is an alarming wake-up call to the risky drinking habits of some Victorians and suggests they may not fully appreciate the extent to which their current drinking is putting them at risk of harm.”

“Reducing alcohol consumption is a way all people can reduce their cancer risk. Alcohol is a class one carcinogenic and we need to be doing more to show Australians the real damage it can leave behind,” said Mr. Harper.

The data from a sample of 1500 Victorian adults aged 25-69 years who drink at least monthly showed:

  • More than 4 out of 10 (42%) of past-week drinkers exceeded the guideline of having no more than four standard drinks on any one day at least once in the past week.
  • 39% of past-week drinkers exceeded the newly released guidelines of having no more than 10 standard drinks per week.
  • Only 29% perceived their current drinking to be risky and only 30% were concerned about their current drinking.

Cancer Council Victoria Senior Policy Advisor, Ms Sarah Jackson said the release of the new guidelines opened an opportunity for public conversations about alcohol risk.

“There is strong need for public education to make Victorians aware of the new drinking guidelines and help them understand the potential consequences of their own drinking levels.”

“Alcohol products kill near 6000 Australians each year and cause at least 7 types of cancer including breast and bowel cancer. These guidelines will hopefully prompt Victorians to consider these health impacts and take action to lower their risk of cancer and other harm caused by alcohol,” said Ms Jackson.