An alcohol education campaign being launched today warns that almost one in four West Australians is in danger of getting liver disease, cancer or stroke from long-term drinking.
In a new message that highlights the diseases caused by regularly overindulging rather than the violence and injury associated with binge drinking, the State health campaign uses graphic images to show the effects of alcohol on organs such as the heart, bowel and brain.
The latest phase of the Alcohol Think Again campaign includes a website calculator where people can assess their own risk from drinking.
Sir Charles Gairdner Hospital gastroenterologist Hooi Ee features in the new print, radio and television advertising, warning of the often unrecognised link between alcohol and deadly diseases.
West Australians already have a reputation as big drinkers, consuming an average 12 litres of pure alcohol a year - the equivalent of 43 bottles of vodka - compared with the national average 10 litres. Although more than 500 West Australians are admitted to hospitals each year with alcohol-caused cirrhosis of the liver, many people are unaware of the link with other diseases, including the two people a week admitted to hospital with an alcohol-linked stroke.
Mental Health Minister Helen Morton said it was an important public health campaign in the face of increasing alcohol-related harm, which cost the State more than $3 billion a year in hospital, ambulance, police and road crash costs.
"People generally know about alcohol and liver disease but we also need to know about the other long-term harms that alcohol can cause, including stroke, heart disease and cancer," she said. "To give some perspective, in 2012 the number of people admitted to hospital with alcohol-related illnesses equated to one person every 28 minutes for the entire year.
"By reducing how much we drink, more than 87,000 bed-days could have been available in that year for other uses."
The campaign advises people not to have more than two standard drinks a day to stay at low risk of alcohol-caused disease in the long-term.