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Benefits of Quitting Alcohol

Considering that drinking not only affects your health (alcohol being declared a carcinogen), but may also have negative consequences for those around you, and that in South Africa, alcohol is considered to be the most widespread and harmful drug of abuse (in 2015 alcohol was declared the 5th leading cause of death and disability in South Africa), quitting the consumption of alcohol seems a smart choice.

* NOTE: CANSA believes quitting alcohol altogether is best, however, if you need to work towards this goal over time, start by cutting down on alcohol consumption.

Find out how quitting alcohol has lasting benefits all round:

1. Lower Your Cancer Risk

In 1988 alcohol was declared a cancer causing agent to humans by the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) and in 2007 and 2009, these findings were confirmed. So drinking any type of alcohol (even in small amounts) increases your cancer risk.

There’s strong evidence that alcohol causes cancers of the colon, rectum, breast, mouth, pharynx, larynx, liver and oesophagus. And there’s also mounting evidence that heavy drinking might be linked to cancer of the pancreas (Cancer Research UK 2016). Furthermore evidence suggests that drinking alcohol causes stomach and breast cancer in pre-menopausal women. Alcohol can cause weight gain which also increases cancer risk. See the latest fact sheets on these cancers…

Cut down on alcohol consumption or decide to quit, as there is no “safe” amount of alcohol that may be consumed, to lower your cancer risk.

2. Increase Safety for All

In South Africa, alcohol is considered to be the most widespread and harmful drug of abuse. In 2015, alcohol was declared the 5th leading cause of death and disability in South Africa.

This is due to the fact that alcohol influences unsafe sexual practices (including transmission and progression of sexually transmitted diseases) and interpersonal violence. These two factors are among the top two contributors to disability and death, with alcohol itself being the 3rd largest contributor to disability and death, accounting for 7 % of the SA health burden. Of the 7 % of the disease burden attributable to alcohol, 3.4 % are related to cancers.

Furthermore, alcohol use is linked to serious personal injury resulting from accidents (including those due to road crashes), and suicides. Alcohol consumption is also associated with destruction of families and disruption of communities.

Personal relationships may improve if alcohol is not being abused.

You can increase your personal safety and that of others, and improve on the quality of your relationships with those in your life, by drinking responsibly, cutting down or quitting alcohol.

3. Protect Vital Organs & Health

Drinking less may improve your heart health, as reducing your intake of alcohol or quitting may lower your blood pressure, levels of fat called triglycerides, and chances of heart failure. Your liver will also benefit. Heavy drinking may lead to fatty liver disease, cirrhosis and degeneration of your liver. As the liver is able to repair itself and regenerate, it’s beneficial to your health to quit drinking.

Heavy drinking, over time, may affect your immune system and your body’s ability to repair itself negatively.

Protect your vital organs and health by drinking less or quitting alcohol consumption altogether.

4. Lose Weight

Alcohol consumption may lead to weight gain, and being overweight or obese not only puts you at risk for non-communicable diseases (NCD’s) such as heart disease, stroke and diabetes, but also increases your risk for several cancers.

Drop the alcohol, and benefit by losing a few kilo’s or maintaining a healthy weight, and lowering your risk for NCDs and cancer.

5. Be More Alert

Although consumption of alcohol may make you drowsy initially, it interferes with the REM stage of sleep and causes your sleep to be interrupted during the night. You may also need to urinate more frequently forcing you to get up at night and disrupting your sleep.

Over time heavy drinking can interfere with important functions such as memory, perception and motor skills.

Decide to quit drinking alcohol and see how your mind and body respond. You might find that you become more alert, and feel better rested.

Support Essential When You Quit

If you are a heavy drinker, you will need support to wean yourself off alcohol and to quit. Consult with a medical professional and find helpful tips from Allen Carr’s How to Stop Drinking programme and or contact Alcoholics Anonymous (Helpline: 0861 435 722)

Do you have a question?
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CANSA Tele Counselling

 0800 22 6622 Toll Free
 072 197 9305 English and Afrikaans
 071 867 3530 Xhosa, Zulu, Sotho and Siswati


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