Very rarely do you go to an party or event where Alcohol is not a big part of the occasion. From toasts to popping a bottle when you get the keys to your new home it seems to be a constant part of our lives.
Alcohol is a toxin which disrupts the nerve cells and gives rise to the feeling of being tipsy or in other words intoxicated. This leads to changes in our thought patterns which leads reduced inhibitions and a form of artificial relaxation.
What many people don't know is that the World Health Organisation's International Agency for Reseach on Cancer (IARC) classified alcohol as a Class 1 Carcinogen back in the 1980's.
In 2014 the World Cancer Report (2) came to the conclusion that there is no safe level of alcohol consumption regarding cancer risk. However is the dose dependent nature has been well established, so the more you consume the more the risk.
Alcohol is attributed to 3.6% of all cancers and 3.5% of all cancer deaths (3).
Alcohol is also linked to increase incidences of other diseases such as heart disease, liver disease, diabetes, obesity, impotence, brain damage, you name it. These have their own problems which then lead to other problems and so on. The social effects on relationships, jobs, and mental health are also very pronounced.
So overall less is best when it comes to alcohol consumption, and it is advised to often give the body a rest and have extended periods of alcohol free time. This is especially true if one drinks because they are stressed.
So if you are thinking it might be good to give the body a rest, why not look at the Dry July initiative for cancer awareness and fund-raising.
Even though July is part way through, it is never too late to start.
Alcohol provides nothing required for life, and so should be easy to live without. If the idea of going a month without alcohol is too much to bear, then maybe you might want to consider increasing your alcohol free days and or drinking less each time you do. This is also a good time to consider why you drink and look at other strategies to fill the role alcohol plays in your life.
To see how much risk you might be in and for information about where to get help take this simple 2-3 minute quiz: NSW Government Alcohol Risk Assessment tool.
If you struggle to control your drinking or find that when you extend the time between drinks and begin to crave it and get a strong desire to drink it more, that could be a sign of an alcohol problem, and would be good for you to talk to your GP or one of the services below.:
The Family Drug Support
1300 368 186
Alcohol Drug Information Service
SA 1300 131 340
other numbers available here
A good summary of the role of alcohol in cancer can be found in the wikipedia article found here
IARC reports are available through this link