Poll finds understanding gap between alcohol and disease
Many Australians are unaware of the links between alcohol consumption and a range of cancers and other diseases, according to a recently released survey.
But a vast majority of them believe they have a right to such information and that Governments have a responsibility to educate them.
A new poll, released by the Foundation for Alcohol Research and Education (FARE), reveals that Australians have a lack of understanding of the official drinking guidelines that could help keep them healthier.
The same poll also reveals that they want to know about the long-term harm associated with regular alcohol consumption, and they are increasingly of the opinion the alcohol industry is deliberately downplaying independent university research linking alcohol to a range of harm, including cancer and cardiovascular disease.
The Annual Alcohol Poll 2018: Attitudes and Behaviours, conducted by YouGov Galaxy, found that fewer than half of Australians are aware of the link between alcohol misuse and stroke (38 per cent), mouth and throat cancer (26 per cent) and breast cancer (16 per cent).
While 70 per cent of Australian adults are aware of the Australian Guidelines to Reduce Health Risks from Drinking Alcohol, only one in four of them (28 per cent) are aware of the content.
FARE’s Chief Executive Michael Thorn said the lack of knowledge of both the link between alcohol consumption and the risks of cancer and other chronic diseases, together with a clear understanding of how to avoid those risks, was extremely alarming.
“It really is a dangerous cocktail. Community awareness of alcohol’s link with a range of chronic health conditions remains low,” Mr Thorn said.
“In the case of alcohol’s link to breast cancer, the awareness is only 16 per cent. Nor are Australians armed with the knowledge that would reduce their risk of long-term harm. Only one in four Australians have some awareness of the actual content of the official drinking guidelines.”
Now in its ninth year, FARE’s national alcohol poll provides valuable trend data and insights into community perspectives on alcohol
This year, Australians were asked for the first time whether they thought they had a right to know about the long-term harm associated with regular alcohol use.
When advised that the World Health Organisation recognises that alcohol is linked to approximately 200 disease and injury conditions such as breast cancer, liver disease, mouth cancer and stroke, the vast majority of Australians (84 per cent) agreed that they had a right to that information, with 80 per cent of Australians reporting that Governments have a responsibility to educate Australians on this matter.
“If there is a silver lining here, it is that Australians clearly recognise their rights as consumers to be fully informed of the harm associated with the products they consume,” Mr Thorn said.
“The lesson here for Government is that it must do a better job of ensuring Australians fully understand the long-term harm from alcohol, and are given the information that would help them reduce that harm.”
The 2018 Poll findings make clear that the job cannot be left to the alcohol industry – 61 per cent of Australians believe that the alcohol industry would downplay independent university research findings linking alcohol consumption to a range of harm such as cancer and family violence.
Polling revealed that community perceptions of the alcohol industry have not improved since 2015, finding that the majority of Australians continue to believe that the alcohol industry targets people under the age of 18 years (55 per cent), and that it has too much influence with Governments (57 per cent).
The full is available at www.fare.org.au.
Published: 26 Mar 2018