Dry July is an annual fundraiser that challenges people to go alcohol-free for the month of July while raising money for people affected by cancer.

Since it began in 2007, Dry July has raised over $73 million dollars for different cancer-related charities.

Not bad for three British ex-pats in the eastern suburbs of Sydney!

Dry July is more than just a challenge to give up alcohol for a month. There’s another reason that many Australians are not aware of. Alcohol and cancer are closely linked.

For a country whose first currency was rum, that can be hard to hear. But based on a large number of epidemiological studies, here are a few facts.

Alcohol and cancer

Alcohol, even in small amounts, can increase the risk of developing certain types of cancer. It affects different parts of our body, including the mouth, throat, esophagus, liver, and breast. 

Excessive drinking (more than 4 drinks per day) can result in a 5-fold increase in the risk of oral and pharyngeal cancer and esophageal squamous cell carcinoma.

Around 5.6 percent of cancer cases in Australia are attributed to chronic alcohol use.

Even moderate drinking (one drink of 100 grams) per day had a 7 to 10 percent increased risk of breast cancer. While those who drank 2 to 3 drinks, had a 20 percent higher risk, according to the Breast Cancer Research Foundation.

After tobacco, it is the next most preventable cause of drug-related death and hospitalisation in Australia.

Alcohol is classified as a Group 1 carcinogen. There is sufficient evidence that alcohol is cancer-causing in humans.

What happens when we drink alcohol?

When we drink alcohol, we don’t digest the alcohol, it goes into our bloodstream and travels around your body. It affects the brain first, then the kidney, lungs and liver.

The Cancer Council says there is convincing evidence that drinking any type of alcohol (beer, wine or spirits) increases the risk of cancers of the bowel, breast, mouth, throat, voice box, oesophagus (food pipe) and liver. 


For teenagers who might be curious about alcohol, it’s important to understand these risks early on.

According to the Department of Health, alcohol can cause other long-term damage including:

Myths about alcohol

There are several myths surrounding alcohol consumption that suggest it can be beneficial for health. Here are some common ones:

Myth 1: A little bit of alcohol is better for you than none at all

The alcohol industry has framed the argument as a balance between benefits and harms. The evidence, however, fails to show any benefits as this video shows.

There’s a widespread belief that moderate alcohol consumption (up to one drink per day for women and up to two drinks per day for men) can be part of a healthy lifestyle.

However, the risks associated with even moderate drinking (such as an increased risk of certain cancers, liver disease) outweigh any potential benefits.

Myth 2: Red Wine is good for your heart

It’s often believed that red wine, due to its antioxidants like resveratrol, can protect against heart disease.

While some studies suggest moderate alcohol intake might have a slight benefit for heart health, the cancer risks of alcohol consumption generally outweigh these small benefits.

Health Benefits of Dry July

When we give our bodies a break from alcohol, it gives our cells a chance to repair and reduces the harmful effects that alcohol can have.

The Dry July fundraiser started with a goal of $3000 to buy a new TV for the local hospital waiting room. When ABC broadcaster Adam Spencer got on board, the publicity helped the event reach $250,000

But the benefits are also personal.

Improved Sleep: Alcohol can disrupt sleep patterns, so abstaining can lead to better quality sleep and feeling more rested.

Enhanced Mood: Alcohol can affect mood and exacerbate feelings of anxiety or depression. Not drinking can lead to a more stable mood and improved mental well-being.

Increased Energy: Alcohol is a depressant that can make you feel sluggish. Without it, you may have more energy and feel more alert throughout the day.

Weight Management: Booze can be high in calories. Cutting it out can help with weight loss or weight management goals.

Healthier Skin: Alcohol can dehydrate the skin and contribute to issues like acne. Giving it up can lead to clearer, healthier skin.

Saving Money: Drinking alcohol is expensive, so giving it up for a month will put more money in your pock

How do I do Dry July?

If you’re doing Dry July, you’re in good company. 

Congratulations and good luck!

Visit the official Dry July website and register. 

If you’re not doing Dry July, maybe next year. 

Alcohol is poisonous, but the benefits are social and pleasurable. So drink whatever you enjoy, but try not to drink more than 4 drinks per day or 10 per week, as per the Australian Health Guidelines.

It doesn’t matter what you choose to drink, a standard drink is 10 g of pure alcohol.