The shocking truth behind what you’re actually drinking

As part of its new Drink Less, Live More campaign to raise awareness of the link between alcohol consumption and cancer, Cancer Council Victoria has analysed what’s in your drink and the results are startling.

“It might shock Australians to know, for instance, that essentially what they’re drinking on a boozy night out with mates, or during a few quiet ones, is ethanol. That’s the same ingredient as we put in our cars to keep them running,” Ms Martin said.

“There are a number of leading theories about how alcohol can lead to cancer. These include toxic chemicals in ethanol that lead to cell mutation, increasing cell susceptibility to absorbing cancer-causing chemicals or by increasing the levels of hormones such as oestrogen in the body.

“The Alcohol By Volume (ABV) content level on the side of your bottle can help you calculate how much ethanol is in your drink. For instance, if your 375ml stubby is 4.5% ABV you’re drinking around 17ml of ethanol with every bottle – about half a shot’s worth. And a 150ml glass of 12.5% ABV wine has around 19ml, more than half a shot of ethanol.

“When this ethanol comes into contact with our organs, and our cells move in to break it down, our body produces a toxic offshoot called acetaldehyde, which swims through the body damaging our DNA and stopping our cells from repairing the damage.

“When damaged DNA makes broken copies of itself to repair the body, this can lead to a genetic mutation and cancer.”

And don’t be fooled into thinking low-carb beers are the healthy option.

According to Ms Martin, whether your drink is full strength or low carb, more than 80% of its calories are likely to have come from pure alcohol.

“It’s the alcohol content, not the number of carbs that are causing the most damage,” Ms Martin said.

“As well as the risk of cancer, most of the energy in your drink comes from alcohol, so regardless of whether it’s a high carb or low carb drink, it’s still going to make you gain weight.”

Don’t let the big alcohol companies fool you into thinking what you’re drinking is safe. You deserve to know what’s hiding in the products you’re putting into your body.

To raise awareness of the link between alcohol and cancer and to help people cut back or cut out alcohol, Cancer Council Victoria has launched the Drink Less, Live More campaign.

To learn more about why alcohol matters for cancer, check out the Drink Less, Live More website. And help us spread the truth about the impact of alcohol.