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B.C. residents are Canada’s top drinkers, but few know it can cause cancer: Fraser Health

25 per cent of people don’t know that drinking alcohol increases the chance of getting cancer later in life

Did you know regular, heavy drinking could lead to a higher chance of cancer after 50?

If you didn’t, you’re not alone – and that has the Fraser Health Authority worried.

Medical health officer Dr. Ingrid Tyler said 25 per cent of people don’t know that drinking alcohol increases the chance of getting cancer later in life.

“It’s becoming an increasingly concerning health issue that people are consuming large amounts of alcohol,” Tyler said.

“British Columbia consumes more alcohol than any other Canadian province, above national average.”

Last year, drinking led to 450 preventable cancer deaths in B.C., 250 of which were in Fraser Health’s region. Canada-wide, about 3,000 people died because of preventable cancers caused by drinking.

That could be because the short-term risks of excessive drinking, such as impairment while driving, are more well known than long-term risks.

Alcohol consumption has been linked to a variety of cancers, including oral, larynx, stomach, liver and breast cancers.

How much can you drink safely? Tyler said studies have suggested no amount is safe.

“The most up-to-date guidelines around drinking… from the UK… suggest that six standard drinks a week is a reasonable risk.”

It doesn’t help that most drinks served at bars and pubs are usually much bigger than the “standard.”

For example, researchers consider one “standard” serving of wine to be 2.6 oz – much smaller, Tyler said, than the six or nine ounces many restaurants serve.

A standard beer is just 250 millilitres, or one cup, at four-per-cent alcohol. If the beer is 4.5-per-cent, then a standard quantity is 218 millilitres. A standard serving of hard alcohol should be 25 millilitres, or just under one ounce.

Tyler has a few tips to drink less: Try to have more alcohol-free days, choose non-alcoholic drinks more often, and refuse drinks when appropriate.

READ MORE: B.C.’s regulation of alcohol second-best in the country: study


@katslepian

katya.slepian@bpdigital.ca

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