Life in litres

Can­cer re­duc­tion find­ings

Herald Sun - - NEWS - LUCIE VAN DEN BERG lucie.van­den­berg@news.com.au @Lu­cie_VDB

DRINK­ING three litres less a year of al­co­hol per capita could pre­vent more than 5500 peo­ple dy­ing from can­cer over two decades, ac­cord­ing to new Mel­bourne re­search.

The find­ings from the Cen­tre for Al­co­hol Pol­icy Re­search at La Trobe Univer­sity also found smok­ing half a kilo­gram less an­nu­ally per capita would re­duce the coun­try’s can­cer deaths by around 3600 over 20 years.

Lead re­searcher Dr Ja­son Jiang said his team looked at drink­ing and smok­ing rates stretch­ing back to the 1930s.

They were then able to es­ti­mate that if al­co­hol con­sump­tion dropped by three litres a year per capita it would re­duce can­cer-re­lated deaths over 20 years by 12 per cent.

Whereas a re­duc­tion in per capita con­sump­tion of tobacco of half a kilo­gram would re­sult in an 8 per cent drop.

In 2014 there were 45,908 can­cer deaths among Aus­tra- lians aged 15 and over. Dr Jiang said most of the pre­vi­ous re­search fo­cused on the im­pact of changes in in­di­vid­ual con­sump­tion, but it was im­por­tant to un­der­stand the ef­fect of pol­icy changes at a pop­u­la­tion level.

“This kind of study can help in­form the fu­ture of pub­lic health poli­cies,” he said.

“It pro­vides ev­i­dence that a de­crease in pop­u­la­tion-level drink­ing and tobacco smok­ing could lead to a re­duc­tion in can­cer mor­tal­ity.”

Know­ing there is an al­most 20-year lag time be­tween changes be­ing made to cur­tail con­sump­tion and the im­pact on can­cer rates could also help bet­ter mon­i­tor the ef­fec­tive­ness of pol­icy changes.

The study was pub­lished in the Jour­nal of the Amer­i­can Med­i­cal As­so­ci­a­tion.

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