Alcohol consumption by Australian students is significantly decreasing, with around a quarter of 12 to 17 year olds drinking in the past month compared to 37 per cent in 2008.
The latest Australian Secondary Students’ Alcohol and Drug (ASSAD) survey found 15 per cent of 12 to 17-year-old students nationally consumed alcohol in the past seven days, a drop from 23 per cent in 2008 and 17 per cent in 2011.
In Queensland, less than one in five students aged 12 to 17 consumed an alcoholic drink in the week prior to the survey.
Cancer Council Queensland spokesperson Nicole Border said in the lead up to Schoolies Week in Queensland (November 19-26), the decrease in alcohol consumption by school students nationally was encouraging.
“We’re pleased to see a downward trend in alcohol consumption among young people in Australia – reducing their risk of alcohol-related harm,” Ms Border said.
“Awareness of the adverse health effects and short and long-term consequences of harmful alcohol consumption is key.
“Of concern, the data shows still more than a third (36 per cent) of school students aged 16 or 17 had at least one alcoholic drink in the week before the survey.
“There is convincing evidence that alcohol use increases the risk of cancers of the mouth, pharynx, larynx, oesophagus, liver, and breast (in women), and probable evidence that it increases the risk of bowel cancer (in women).
“Alcohol use may also contribute to weight (fat) gain, which increases the risk of a range of chronic diseases, including some cancers.
“Even drinking small amounts of alcohol increases a person’s cancer risk.
“The more you drink, the greater the risk. If you choose to drink, Cancer Council recommends Queenslanders limit their intake.
“We all have a role to play in reducing alcohol consumption among students – this latest study reinforces the need for joint action on the part of individuals, communities, governments, and organisations.”
The ASSAD study also found among students who identified themselves as either current drinkers or who had a drink within the last 12 months, parents or guardians were the most likely source of the students’ last alcoholic drink (44 per cent), followed by friends (20 per cent).
Alcohol consumption is linked with 3200 cases of cancer of the mouth, throat, oesophagus, liver, bowel and female breast in Australia each year.
For individuals who choose to drink alcohol, Cancer Council recommends Queenslanders drink only within the National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) guidelines.
Conducted every three years since 1984, the ASSAD survey is a collaboration between the Cancer Councils in Victoria, South Australia, Queensland and Tasmania, state and territory governments and the Australian Government Department of Health.
Around 23,000 secondary students aged between 12 and 17 years participated in the 2014 ASSAD Survey nationally.