Please raise your hand if you have been guilty of being desperate for a sneaky drink after a stressful day at work, home or even university?
Your first thought is heading straight to the pub, or to the liquor cabinet, to crack open a bottle of so-called liquid "problem solver."
If you (like me) are sitting at your computer with one hand in the air you are definitely not alone.
In fact, you probably have not been as desperate as one poor bloke in a Melbourne hospital who was so desperate for a drink, he took to the bottle - actually he took to six bottles - of alcohol-based hand sanitising gel.
A recent newspaper article revealed the man was found with the bottles in his hospital bed and a blood alcohol reading of 0.271 per cent - more than four times over the legal limit for driving here in Australia.
Luckily, the man in question suffered nothing worse than a serious stomach ache on this occasion.
While this story has provided news outlets with a quirky article for the day, it is important to remember that alcohol consumption does have a serious side - and can do more than clean out your insides.
Research undertaken by the World Cancer Research Fund on cancer and alcohol use in the United Kingdom, which has been translated to calculate Australian figures, reveal that 5,070 cases of cancer (or 5% of all cancers) are attributable to long-term, chronic use of alcohol each year in Australia.
There is also convincing evidence that alcohol use increases the risk of cancers of the mouth, pharynx, larynx, oesophagus, bowel (in men) and breast (in women), and probable evidence that it increases the risk of bowel cancer (in women) and liver cancer. (Convincing and probable are the highest levels of evidence as determined by the World Cancer Research Fund and American Institute for Cancer Research and denote that the relationship is causal or probably causal in nature).
Cancer Council Victoria recommends a healthy lifestyle to reduce the risk of cancer. As part of that message, we do recommend people limit their overall alcohol consumption, and if you can, avoid alcohol altogether
But if you find yourself in a desperate situation, or even a social one, don't think you have to throw all your good intentions out the window - much less resort to the hand sanitiser. Reducing your risk of alcohol related cancer can be simply a matter of choosing lower alcohol drinks over full strength, or alternating your drinks with water.
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