Australia

Many in the dark on alcohol, disease link

A survey's found many Australians don't know alcohol misuse can lead to diseases like cancer. (AAP)

A poll has found less than half of Australians surveyed knew of a link between alcohol misuse and stroke, but the industry questions the survey's validity.

Many Australians remain oblivious to the link between alcohol misuse and disease, a national poll has found.

The annual alcohol poll of 2018, commissioned by the Foundation for Alcohol Research and Education (FARE), found fewer than half of respondents were aware that excessive alcohol consumption is associated with an increased risk of stroke (38 per cent).

Awareness was even lower when asked about alcohol's link to mouth and throat cancer (26 per cent) and breast cancer (16 per cent).

One in four understood the official drinking guidelines, designed to encourage safe levels of alcohol consumption.

The online poll, which surveyed 1820 people, also uncovered a lack of trust in the alcohol industry, says FARE's Chief Executive Michael Thorn.

It found 61 per cent believed the alcohol industry would downplay independent university research findings, linking alcohol consumption to a range of harms such as cancer and family violence.

Mr Thorn said this combination of distrust and lack of knowledge on alcohol-related harms was alarming and should be a concern to governments.

"It really is a dangerous cocktail," he said.

"Australians are not aware of the link between alcohol and cancer and other chronic diseases, and at the same time, don't know how to reduce their risk from harm," Mr Thorn said.

Fergus Taylor, Executive Director of Alcohol Beverages Australia rejected the poll's findings and questioned its validity.

"The vast majority of Australians drink responsibly - because they know there are well-established health benefits of moderate alcohol consumption and they also know that at consistently high levels of drinking, there are increased risks of a small number of cancers and other diseases," Mr Taylor said in a statement.

He said the industry went to great lengths to encourage responsible drinking.

Other Key Findings of the Alcohol Poll:

* 73 per cent believe Australia has a problem with excess drinking or alcohol abuse

* 76 per cent believe more needs to be done to reduce the harm caused by alcohol-related illness, injury, death and related issues

* 37 per cent have been affected by alcohol-related violence, 47 per cent of these in the last 12 months

* 45 per cent consume alcohol to get drunk

* 76 per cent have been influenced by a promotion when purchasing alcohol

* 80 per cent think there are places where alcohol advertising should be banned

* 57 per cent believe governments aren't doing enough to address alcohol harm

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