This report found that alcohol use contributes significantly to Australia’s health burden (burden of disease) as well as contributing billions of dollars each year in terms of healthcare and non-healthcare economic costs. This research was commissioned by Cancer Institute NSW and NSW Health.
Key reasons to reduce alcohol consumption
- In Australia, alcohol use is the fifth highest modifiable risk factor causing preventable health burden after tobacco use, overweight including obesity, all dietary risks and high blood pressure.
- More than 4% of all deaths in Australia were attributable to alcohol in 2018 (6,512 deaths in total).
- Alcohol use contributes significantly to Australia’s health burden as well as contributing billions of dollars each year in health care and non-healthcare economic costs.
- Globally, it is estimated three million deaths per year and 5.1% of the global burden of disease are caused by the harmful use of alcohol.
- Alcohol is a known carcinogen for humans and causes many types of cancers including liver cancer, nasopharyngeal cancer, lip and oral cavity cancer, other oral cavity and pharynx cancers, laryngeal cancer, oesophageal cancer, bowel cancer and breast cancer.
- In Australia over the next decade, it is projected that 15,000 cancers will be attributable to consumption of more than two alcohol drinks per day.
- The other main causes of alcohol-related health burden are injuries, alcohol use disorder, road traffic injuries for cyclists, drivers, passengers and pedestrians.
- Most of the available evidence indicates that the more effective interventions to reduce alcohol-related harms are comprehensive, multi-component strategies, targeting alcohol supply and use, and targeting populations and individuals.
Benefits to addressing and preventing alcohol use and harms
Physical health benefits
- Body weight or BMI
- Health knowledge and attitudes
- Cancer risk
- Chronic disease risk
- Problematic alcohol use and binge drinking
- Injuries and hospital presentations
- Motor vehicle injuries
- Prevalence of Foetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders (FASD)
- Liver cancer
- Head, lip and neck cancers
- Oesophageal cancer
- Bowel cancer
- Breast cancer
Mental health benefits
- Mental and psychological wellbeing
- Cognitive function
- Quality of life
- Mental health conditions (e.g. depression and anxiety)
- Psychological distress
- Substance misuse
- Self harm and suicide
- Health and social equity
- Safety and amenity
- School attendance
- Social participation
- Traffic accidents and drink driving
- Assaults, violence and anti-social behaviour
- Family and domestic violence
- Sustainable healthcare system
- Attendance at work
- Productive years in the workforce
- Income due to disease and premature death
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