Australians urge to do Dry July for cancer research as alcohol rises during Covid | The Canberra Times

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Australians are being urged to stay dry in July to help create better lives for people affected by cancer as new data shows alcohol consumption rose during Covid hit 2020. The proportion of Australians drinking alcohol rose by nearly 320,000 people in the 12 months to December 2020, April data by Roy Morgan showing. The increase, totaling about 13.34 million Australians aged 18 and over who drank alcohol in an average period of four weeks, represented an increase from 0.8 percent to 67 percent. It was the first year-over-year increase since 2016, when 69.6 per cent of Australians drank alcohol, 0.7 per cent more than in 2015. Among the participants in the Dry July foundation pushing to quit alcohol this year one to remember is Canberra woman Bryony Lowe. Ms Lowe said her motivation was to raise awareness that lung cancer can affect non-smokers after her partner, Ben Sharp, died of it during the peak of Covid last April. Mr Sharp was a non-smoker and only 42 when he died tragically. “People tend to think it’s just a smoker’s disease. Yes, it could be, but it doesn’t discriminate because Ben was such a fit and active person before he started having pain in his bones, pelvis and back,” said Mrs Lowe. “The only reason we found out was when he started having vision loss, which only lasted a few seconds per episode, but it would drive him crazy.” After numerous tests in NSW and Canberra, the family went to the Peter MacCallum Cancer Center in Melbourne before Mr Sharp’s death. “He was just very unlucky. Our children had to see him crash very quickly.” Ms Lowe described him as a “very caring man and he would take his shirt off his back to help people”. “We couldn’t have a decent funeral for him because of Covid,” she said. “Not a day goes by that we and his best friends don’t think of him.” As for the broader message about alcohol, Ms Lowe said she also wanted her participation this year to change the country’s drinking culture. “If you are in a position to help, please donate to the foundation as there are many families who cannot afford the travel for treatment,” she said. Elsewhere in the ACT, the Canberra Hospital Foundation is a Dry July beneficiary and directly supports the Canberra Region Cancer Center. The increase in consumption in 2020 was driven by wine, spirits and ready-to-drink drinks, all of which rose between 1-4 percent, Roy Morgan data shows. However, the long-term downward trend for other categories continued, with fewer Australians drinking beer, cider, liqueurs and fortified wines. Beer led the decline, falling from 7.35 million to 6.87 million Australians in 2019-20. MORE NEWS The latest data from the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare shows that while alcohol consumption remained at risky levels for 18-24 year-olds between 2001 and 19, the proportion of people drinking more than the lifetime risk guidelines has increased. declined. Devin Bowles, CEO of Alcohol Tobacco and Other Drug Association ACT, said alcohol addiction can become a problem for people, sometimes without realizing it is happening. “We are concerned that some people have increased their alcohol consumption from the lockdown period in Canberra and are struggling to reduce it again,” said Mr Bowles. Mr Bowles said people put off seeking help too often, usually for decades. “The less we drink, the less health risk we face from alcohol. Alcohol increases the risk of accidents in the short term and increases a wide range of long-term health risks, such as cancer and weight gain.” dependency and Canberra has several high-quality, non-judgmental alcohol practitioners if Dry July is of concern.” The National Health and Medical Research Council released new guidelines on alcohol consumption in December 2020 to help Australians. “To reduce the risk of harm from alcohol-related illness or injury, healthy men and women should drink no more than 10 standard drinks a week and no more than four a day,” the council said. “To prevent alcohol damage to their unborn child, women who are pregnant or planning to become pregnant should should not drink alcohol. “For women who are breastfeeding, not drinking alcohol is safest for their baby.” Australia’s chief physician, Professor Paul Kelly, said there were more than 4,000 alcohol-related deaths in Australia and more than 70,000 hospitalizations each year. “Alcohol has been linked to more than 40 medical conditions, including many cancers,” he said. “Following the guidelines keeps the risk of harm from alcohol low, but does not eliminate all risks. Healthy adults who drink within the guideline recommendations have less than a 1 in 100 chance of dying from an alcohol-related condition.” A 2020 study into the UK Dry January campaign found that people who took part in the initiative reported improved mental wellbeing, drinking less and more control over drinking. As of Tuesday, nearly 27,000 people have signed up for Dry July and approximately $2.9 million has been raised. Our journalists work hard to provide local, current news to the community. Here’s how you can continue to access our trusted content:


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