Alcohol consumption is a common and widespread part of Australian culture. Its use (and overuse) can cause substantial negative social, health and economic consequences and consumption is a known risk factor for cancer.
To determine predictors of alcohol consumption in excess of the National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) guidelines for lifetime risk among adults; adult awareness of these guidelines and the link between alcohol and cancer; and predictors of alcohol consumption among adolescents.
Data for adults were collected in cross-sectional representative population surveys of South Australians aged ≥15 years from 2004 to 2011. Each survey had a sample size of approximately 3,000 respondents. Data for school students were collected via the 2011 Australian School Students Alcohol and Drugs Survey (n=3,050 SA students in year levels 7-12).
In 2011 and 2012, 21.6% of adults drank in excess of the NHMRC guideline threshold (33.0% males; 10.7% females). While 53.5% correctly identified the consumption threshold for women, only 20.3% did so for men (39.0% nominated a higher amount). A large minority said they did not know the consumption threshold for women (39.2%) or men (40.4%). In 2012, only 36.6% saw alcohol as an important risk factor for cancer. Important predictors of excess consumption for men were a higher household income and not perceiving alcohol as an important risk factor for cancer. Predictors for women were similar but the role of household income was even more prominent. Predictors (demographic and social context) for consumption among school students will be presented.
A high proportion of the community are putting themselves at increased risk of cancer with their alcohol consumption. The results of this study will be discussed to inform future health promotion messages.