Australian women are invited to become citizen scientists as a part of a Flinders University study, supported by Council SA and Flinders Foundation, that seeks to understand how much alcohol advertising women see online.
Recent data from FARE shows that there has been a 300 per cent increase in alcohol advertising during the coronavirus pandemic, with women targeted as a key market group.
College of Medicine and Public Health lead researcher Jessica Thomas says that recent studies have shown that women are drinking at higher rates, and in more harmful ways, than their male counterparts.
“We know that an increase in alcohol advertising is associated with an increased likelihood of drinking at higher rates,” she says.
“We also know that increased alcohol consumption in women has a number of long-term impacts, including increased cancer risk. In fact, research shows a 60 per cent increase in breast cancer risk in women who are heavy drinkers compared to women who are non-drinkers.
“The coronavirus pandemic represents a highly stressful time and in times of stress we tend to consume more alcohol. Alcohol advertisers know this and are attempting to cash in with increased advertising on social media, a largely unregulated space.
“We’re calling on Australian women to help us shine a spotlight on alcohol advertising.
“There has been very limited research on the impact of alcohol advertising on women, and it’s something that we need to address.”
Leading health organisations such as the WHO, Cancer Council and the Australian Medical Association have made calls for restrictions on advertising to reduce alcohol related harm for other population groups.
Cancer Council dietitian Nat von Bertouch said that there is still low public awareness and or acceptance of alcohol as a risk factor for cancer.
“Alcohol consumption is not only linked to breast cancer, but a range of other cancers,” she says.
“Even drinking moderate amounts of alcohol increases the risk of cancers of the mouth, pharynx, larynx, oesophagus, liver, breast and bowel.
“The more you drink and the longer you have been drinking, the greater the risk. Your risk of cancer is the same for all types of alcohol consumed, including beer, wine and spirits.
“This study is really important and will hopefully make women more aware of the link between alcohol and cancer and encourage them to change their behaviours.”
Registrations for participants are now open to any women over the age of 18.