There is no doubt that drinking is part of Australian culture. BBQs and beer go together like meringue, cream and some kind of fruit; like Kylie and Jason; like Skippy and people down wells. Which is why it's understandable that the link between alcohol and cancer isn't a popular message. But even moderate amounts of alcohol increases the risk of cancers of the mouth, pharynx, larynx, oesophagus, liver, breast and bowel. However, at CYCR we're optimistic, we feel there could be a bit of a change in the air.
More and more people seem to be giving up the hangover without compromising their social lives. Movements like Hello Sunday Morning, Ocsober, Dry July and FebFast are gaining momentum and this new wave of non-drinkers are feeling the benefits in both their wellbeing and their wallets.
Because so many people give up alcohol in February we were inundated with people to share their stories about giving up drinking. Here are Cristina, David and Creina's stories.
Cristina Perra has given up drinking for February. "I come from an Italian background, and although I'm not a big drinker, alcohol has always been a part of my life. Aside from the health benefits involved in giving up drinking I was interested in challenging myself.
"This is the first time I've ever said ‘no' to alcohol for any extended period of time, and honestly, I've found it easy. I have noticed some small changes over the last few weeks; I have more energy, I am getting more out of my Saturday mornings and I've lost a bit of weight."
"I'm considering continuing on until the end of March. Ultimately, I want to work towards only having the occasional drink in social situations."
David Young doesn't drink and this helped him to save a deposit for a house when he was just 21. "I can see why people might like having a couple of drinks, but I can't see the appeal of drinking to excess. I have absolutely no regrets about avoiding alcohol. As well as being good for my health I have managed to save enough to buy a house.
"My family aren't heavy drinkers and I've chosen to prioritise work, friends, study, footy and the gym over boozing. The support of my close friends and family has helped. They never pressure me to drink and they respect my choice.
"I probably only have a drink a couple of times a year, it's always in moderation, and I cannot see any reason for that to change."
Creina Porter accepted the challenge of giving up drinking for a month and hasn't looked back. "On 30 January, when I was at the doctor's, he asked if I thought I could give up drinking for February and I said ‘yes'. I felt I could as I don't actually drink very much anyway. So it all started as a last minute challenge. It has not been as hard as I thought, despite having had a busy month with lots of going out and entertaining.
"I think it is easy to get into a routine of drinking regularly, even if it is only one glass of wine. I often try and have alcohol free days during the week, which I would occasionally break. In a way, totally giving up has been easier because I don't want to give in and break the challenge. I'm starting to see some small benefits too, like getting a better night's sleep. I now feel that I will be better at avoiding alcohol during the week."
If you are worried about alcohol related cancer, simply try to limit your intake of alcohol, or better still, avoid it altogether. If you choose to drink alcohol, Cancer Council recommends limiting consumption to no more than two standard drinks per day and have at least one or two alcohol-free days every week.