Issue #7 August 2013

Tena koutou.

Many of the ways alcohol affects our bodies are commonly known about. Almost everyone knows that too much alcohol can damage the liver and cause liver failure or even liver cancer. But how many people know that alcohol is classed as a carcinogen and also causes breast cancer, bowel cancer, oesophageal cancer and throat cancer? And while we often hear about physical and sexual assaults, injuries, accidental drowning and road crashes when these have led to arrests, hospitalisations or coroner’s inquests, less attention is given to the role of alcohol in family violence and child neglect, when these things happen behind closed doors. Although most people are aware of the advice about avoiding alcohol while pregnant, because this can harm the baby (even if this advice is ignored), probably fewer are aware that alcohol can reduce fertility, increase the risk of miscarriage and premature  birth and lead to impotence in men.

This latest edition of our update e-newsletter shares findings from some of the latest research in New Zealand and looks at the impact of recent legislative changes around alcohol and other drugs. Please feel free to share and forward as appropriate with your networks. If you have news of events in your local community with an alcohol or other drug focus you wish to promote, please send details through to the contact email at the end of the newsletter.

Mauri ora



Alcohol NZ small.JPGThe health impacts of the way we drink in New Zealand

Alcohol is responsible for more than one-in-twenty deaths of New Zealanders aged under 80, a new study suggests. New research from the University of Otago on the ‘Alcohol-attributable burden of disease and injury in New Zealand: 2004 and 2007 ’, commissioned by the Alcohol Advisory Council of New Zealand (ALAC), has just been published. The goal of the study was to summarise the health effects of alcohol across the population in New Zealand.

For alcohol-related deaths in the study year (2007), the key findings include:

·         802 deaths of New Zealanders under 80 years of age that were attributable to drinking alcohol (representing 5.4% of all deaths under 80 years old),

·         43 percent were due to injuries (intentional and unintentional), 30 percent were due to cancer, and 27 percent to other chronic conditions,

·         The alcohol death rate in Maori was two and a half times that of non-Maori,

·         Road traffic injuries were the most common cause of alcohol deaths,

·         The number of male deaths (537) was double the number of deaths in women (265) in 2007.

·         For women, breast cancer was the most common cause of alcohol-attributable deaths.

Health Promotion Agency (HPA) General Manager Policy, Research and Advice, Dr Andrew Hearn, says the report is a valuable addition to the evidence of the impact of alcohol on people’s health and as a cause of injury across the population in New Zealand.  The full report can be accessed here. The HPA has also devoted much of its current edition of AlcoholNZ to discussing the implications of the research. You can download this either by clicking on the picture or here.




Front cover fullWhanau Pack – Tools for families and parents with teenagers

The recently published Whanau Pack has proved so popular that a second print run had to be done to cope with demand. The Whanau Pack is a free resource for those working with families and parents with teenagers. It promotes simple strategies to improve communication and help strengthen bonds between parents and teens.  The resource was developed in Te Tai Tokerau by Northland District Health Board and features photos of local people and locations.

The Whanau Pack (click to view online) has been embraced by a range of community and health providers, including Whanau Ora workers, mental health and addiction staff, parenting organisations, school health services and youth workers. Supporting radio advertisements featuring key strategies can be heard on MediaWorks stations across Northland. To request your free copy today - click here to order.




19407 NDHB A2 Poster p2.jpg19407 NDHB A2 Poster p4.jpg2 new posters from the whanau pack project

Designed as part of the new Whanau Pack project, two new posters promoting key messages from the resource have now been printed.

Based around the findings from Youth '07 and Youth ‘12 reports, as well as other parenting research, the posters focus on positive parenting messages that promote closer communication and bonds between parents and their kids.

The free posters are available for health and community organisations in Te Tai Tokerau and can be ordered here




breast2.jpgBreast cancer leading cause of alcohol-attributable death in New Zealand women

The link between alcohol and breast cancer is one of the newest to be recognised and probably one of the least well known by the general public. This is despite the fact that breast cancer is New Zealand’s third most common cancer, accounting for more than 600 deaths every year, and the most common cancer in women (Ministry of Health, 2012).

Commenting on the results of the newly released ‘Alcohol-attributable burden of disease and injury in New Zealand: 2004 and 2007’ report, co-author Professor Jennie Connor says the report also highlights alcohol’s important toxic and carcinogenic properties, and that for many chronic diseases there is no threshold for safe consumption. More than 30% of alcohol-attributable deaths were due to cancers, including breast and bowel cancer.

“This study demonstrates that alcohol consumption is one of the most important risk factors for avoidable mortality and disease in early and middle adulthood, and contributes substantially to loss of good health across the life course,” she says.

More alcohol-related harm was seen in men than in women, and in Mâori than in non-Mâori. These differences were largely due to differences in alcohol consumption patterns.

Download the whole report here.







Alcohol-facts1.jpgAlcohol Facts

We often underestimate the true extent of alcohol-related harm and costs in New Zealand.  A series of twelve alcohol ‘facts’ were developed by Northland DHB Health Promotion Advisor Dave Hookway and emailed to Northland networks each Monday morning over the past couple of months. The ‘facts’ provided simple discussion starters and explored some of the myths around alcohol-related harm in New Zealand.

Topics included standards drinks, alcohol absorption, youth drinking and alcohol and pregnancy. Each ‘fact’ is referenced with further information to enable readers to explore the topics further. “These are great to increase the skill-set of your staff and co-workers – as well as for conversation starters with friends” says Dave.   

If you missed out on the ‘facts’ and want a copy, please click here to be sent the summary by email.





legal-highsSale of legal highs faces tough rules

Tough new restrictions and heavy penalties for those who break them have been imposed on the sale of legal highs. The Psychoactive Substances Bill, dubbed "world leading" by supporters, came into effect on July 17th. The bill bans the sale of the controversial and harmful synthetic drugs in dairies, supermarkets, petrol stations and anywhere alcohol is sold.  It also prohibits their sale to those aged under 18, their advertising at the point of sale and imposes two-year prison terms or fines of up to $500,000 on those who break the new law.  The law allows for the products to be sold in licensed stores but puts the onus on producers to prove the drugs are safe.

Whangarei police believe some retailers are continuing to sell synthetic cannabis products and are planning a crackdown to find those breaking the law. Whangarei/Kaipara police area controller Inspector Tracy Phillips has told Whangarei District Councillors that she had received tip offs that some retailers in Whangarei were continuing to sell synthetic cannabis products in defiance of the ban. Police and health staff will be following up.



Kiwis_and_AlcoholFactandEffectsHealth Promotion Agency (HPA) free alcohol resources.

Two free resources are available for download online from the HPA:-

The Real Story of Kiwis & Alcohol provides some interesting statistics about alcohol use and its impact in New Zealand. It includes information on ‘why’ and ‘where’ people drink, ‘how much’ and ‘how we compare with other countries’.

Alcohol & You - facts & effects outlines what alcohol is and what it does to the body, explains standard drinks, social harms caused by alcohol and benefits attributed to alcohol.

Both resources can be downloaded for free  - either click on the links or the pictures. Physical copies can also be ordered from the HPA via their publications ordering website.






FASDPosterFinal.jpg2 new resources from Fetal Alcohol Network NZ (FANNZ)

Two excellent papers have been added to the Fetal Alcohol Network NZ website written by two leading Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD) experts, clinical psychologists Valerie McGinn from Auckland and Andi Crawford from Hawke’s Bay.  These papers were requested by families wanting information that would help them convey to others, the difficult concepts of ‘Confabulation’, which people usually perceive as lying - and ‘Adaptive Functioning’, which can be significantly out of sync with IQ. 

The FANNZ website features a number of free downloadable resources covering a wide range FASD topics.




kerikeri pregnant pause 2011 2.JPG International FASD Awareness Day – 9th September 2013

Every year on the 9th day of the 9th month (September 9th) communities across the world come together to promote the key messages:

·         that alcohol can harm an unborn baby,

·         the effects can last a lifetime,

·         the harm is preventable, and

·         more can and should be done to improve the lives of affected people by FASD.

Over the past few years, Northland health and community groups have marked International FASD Awareness Day with a range of initiatives aimed to highlight the importance of women being alcohol-free during pregnancy and whilst breast feeding. These have included flash mobs, Pregnant Pause, community walks and information stalls. Ngati Hine staff held their own event in Whangarei in 2011 and you can view this here.  Supporting an alcohol-free pregnancy involves all the whanau. Now’s the time to plan your 2013 event. For more information or resources about FASD Day, contact Christine Rogan.


In the News…


Ethanol akin to asbestos in cancer stakes

New Zealand's excessive drinking culture is causing cancers with abysmally low survival rates, oncology experts say.  The Cancer Society of New Zealand says Kiwis are only now sobering up to the link between alcohol and cancer, just as we did more than 30 years ago with smoking and lung cancer.  Strong links between drinking more than two or three units a day have been established to deadly digestive tract cancers including mouth, throat, larynx and oesophageal cancers.  There are also strong links between alcohol and bowel, breast and prostate cancers.  Read more…


Time ripe to address alcohol harm

New legislation offers an opportunity to curb the enormous harm caused by hazardous drinking habits in the south, a medical officer of health says. A report by Public Health South, published this month, revealed the southern region has the highest prevalence of hazardous drinking - defined as drinking patterns that risk physical, mental or social harm - in New Zealand. The prevalence of alcohol-related presentations was highest at Lakes District Hospital in Queenstown, with 12 per cent.  Read more…


Workers drug test numbers skyrocket

Workplace drug and alcohol testing is skyrocketing as bosses use the tool to weed out poorly performing staff, vet candidates and keep workplaces safe.  Screening is expanding from traditional safety-sensitive jobs like forestry to sectors including finance and government, as bosses move to ensure they're getting the best staff in tough economic times and intolerance of drugs and alcohol at work grows.  Read more…


Supermarket alcohol sale hours face chop

The booze aisle in your local supermarket could soon be roped off at certain times. Councils across NZ are currently considering draft local alcohol policies. A feature of many policies is a restriction of the hours during which alcohol may be sold in off-license premises. Bringing supermarkets in line with other off-license premises is one of a number of proposals expected to be considered throughout the country. Hamilton is just one of these.  Read more…


Mother wants butane pulled off shelves

The mother of a Christchurch victim who died from the toxic effects of butane says she wants butane pulled off dairy shelves after a coroner found it caused heart problems which led to the teenager's death.  New Zealand Drug Foundation executive director Ross Bell says he believes there was a lack of awareness of the dangers of huffing butane by young people and even health professionals.  Read more…


Trade deal will undermine public health efforts

Trade deal will undermine public health efforts to reduce alcohol-related harm if it limits the scope and role of alcohol warning labelling. Alcohol Healthwatch director Rebecca Williams says her organisation has just learnt that trade negotiators are discussing text for inclusion in the TPPA that could limit the role of alcohol warning labelling, and this has serious implications for public health in New Zealand. Williams says that public health experts have been calling for labelling on all alcohol containers for years to ensure that consumers have the real facts about the risks they are taking.  Read more…




Worried about your drinking?.....

Take the free online test here. Or phone the free Alcohol Drug Helpline….


Compiled and produced by:

Dave Hookway - Health Promotion Advisor - Alcohol and other Drugs

Northland District Health Board - 55 Hobson Ave, Kerikeri 

Postal address: - PO Box 906, Kerikeri 0230, Bay of Islands

( Ph (09) 430-4101 x 7895 | Mob 021-221- 4027 or free phone 0800-537-4342 option #3    Fax 09-4076215

Click here to email                                           



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