Most people drink alcohol for enjoyment on social occasions and for relaxation at levels that have a minimal effect on health, however, a proportion of people drink at levels harmful to their health.
Excessive alcohol consumption is one of the main preventable public health problems in Australia.
There is a clear link between the amount of alcohol consumed, either in the short- or long-term, and the level of harm that results. The health impacts from alcohol vary for different age groups and include:
- underage drinking can affect normal development of the brain
- young people, up to the age of 25, are at higher risk of alcohol related harm, particularly due to a greater risk of accident and injury
- heavy drinking can also adversely affect brain development in young people, which is not complete until around 25 years of age
- drinking during pregnancy can result in congenital abnormalities and disability
- when applying the latest international data to Australia, analysis by the Victorian Cancer Council estimated that 22 percent of the nation’s breast cancer cases were linked to alcohol consumption
- older people can be more vulnerable to the effects of alcohol due to physiological changes associated with ageing, especially as a result of adverse interactions between certain types of medications with alcohol
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