Glass half empty: informing Victorians on the dangers of alcohol

Thursday 1 July, 2021


New Cancer Council Victoria research shows most Victorian adults who drink are unaware that alcohol causes many types of cancer. Now, your generosity is helping Victorians avoid cancer through limiting alcohol.

Only 18% of adults who drink identified alcohol as a cause of breast cancer and fewer than 26% are aware that alcohol causes mouth cancer and throat cancer.

Less than half (46%) believed that alcohol can cause bowel cancer, but more drinkers were aware of the link between alcohol and liver cancer (85%), although 15% were still unsure about this link.

This lack of awareness is prevalent despite evidence that alcohol consumption causes nearly 3,500 Australians to develop cancer each year.

Cancer Council’s Centre for Behavioural Research in Cancer surveyed 1,500 Victorians who drank alcohol at least 2-3 times a month in February–March 2020. When asked about their knowledge of the health risks of alcohol use, cancer was top-of-mind as a potential health risk for only 19% of respondents.

Todd Harper, Cancer Council Victoria CEO, said the research highlights that we still have a long way to go in raising this awareness.

The statistics are particularly alarming given the World Health Organization’s International Agency for Research on Cancer classified alcohol as a group one carcinogen over 30 years ago.

“Alcohol is a group one carcinogen, yet many Victorians who drink have limited awareness of just how many different types of cancer can be caused by alcohol.”

You’re helping inform better drinking habits

With the support of our wonderful fundraisers and donors, Cancer Council Victoria is educating Victorians on the dangers of alcohol consumption so they can decrease their own risk of developing cancer.

We’re also informing the public on the new National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) guidelines on alcohol consumption introduced late last year.

Cancer Council Victoria CEO Todd Harper said “the NHMRC recommends that healthy adults drink no more than 10 standard drinks a week to reduce their risk of cancer and other serious diseases.”

With your help, Cancer Council Victoria is also running a campaign featuring the advertisement Spread across digital channels.

Watch the advertisement Spread

“We hope that our Spread campaign will go a long way to not only educating Victorians about the fact that alcohol causes cancer, but also guiding them on low-risk drinking levels,” said Mr Harper.

First developed in 2010 in Western Australia, the advertisement Spread shows how alcohol increases the risk of cells mutating when it spreads through the body.

A Cancer Council Victoria study published in the British Medical Journal’s BMJ Open in 2017 ranked Spread as the most effective advertisement globally for motivating drinkers to cut back on the amount of alcohol they consume.

You have also helped Cancer Council develop a new interactive tool that will help Victorians understand how many standard drinks they actually consume in a week.

Different types of alcoholic beverages contain different amounts of alcohol. A glass of alcohol may contain more than one standard drink, depending on the size of the glass and the type of alcohol.

The tool aims to show how to correctly pour a standard drink, and how drinking alcohol adds up in kilojoules consumed, dollars spent, and increased cancer risk.

Try the Standard Drink Tool

Dry July is preventing cancer while raising crucial funding

Thousands of generous people like you have given up alcohol for the month through Dry July. They’re inspiring donations from friends and family, while also doing wonders for their health, wellbeing and wallet!

Cancer Council fundraisers have raised nearly $600,000 so far towards our 13 11 20 service that provides reliable information, practical advice and emotional support to anyone facing cancer.

There’s still some time before July is over! Will you help boost the impact our fundraisers will have on people needing compassionate cancer support?

Donate to Cancer Council through Dry July now!

Talking bubbles icon

Questions about cancer?

Call or email our experienced cancer nurses for information and support.

Contact a cancer nurse