Last month, the Cancer society of New Zealand launched a social media campaign to raise awareness around the link between alcohol and cancer.
The Cancer Society recently surveyed more than 800 people about their awareness of the link between alcohol and cancer. More than a third believed “small regular use” of alcohol was “safe” in terms of cancer risk. Breast cancer, which kills 600 Kiwis each year, is the leading cause of alcohol-related death in New Zealand – but the survey found it was the least well-known alcohol-related cancer. Alcohol can raise oestrogen levels in the body and can damage DNA in cells. Evidence suggests breast cancer risk increases by about 7-10% per standard drink per day.
Cancer Society co-medical director Dr George Laking (Te Whakatōhea), an oncologist in Auckland and Northland, has cared for “lots” of people with alcohol-related cancers. The “patchy” awareness of the link among those surveyed indicated “just how steeped we are as a country in pro-alcohol messaging”, which was a “concern”, Laking said. “Many people are aware that tobacco causes lung cancer. However, New Zealanders are typically unaware that alcohol (even small amounts) can increase the risk of developing at least seven cancers, including mouth, pharynx, larynx, oesophagus, breast, bowel and liver cancer.”
“The more booze, the more cancer. That needs to be understood in the same way people understand that too much sunlight (UV) can cause cancer.”
Laking said doctors could say confidently no level of alcohol is safe when it comes to cancer risk.
Click here to access and download the Cancer Society’s shareable social media resources promoting awareness around alcohol and cancer.
Read or download a copy of the Cancer Society’s Position Statement on Alcohol and Cancer
Except from the Take 5 newsletter created by Dave ‘Bear’ Hookway-Kopa
Manu Hapori Hauora | Community Wellbeing Advisor
Te Tai Hapori / Nga Tai Ora / Te Tai Tokerau / Northern Region