Q: Why should I do Dry July now the pubs are open?

SAY BYE BYE: Why not aim to go dry this July to help your health? Photo: Shutterstock
SAY BYE BYE: Why not aim to go dry this July to help your health? Photo: Shutterstock

Maybe you've been drinking a bit more during lockdown and feel a structured program would be a good way to get back into good alcohol consumption habits.

Dry July is the perfect time to do that, with the support of thousands of other Australians taking part, and the knowledge that your work is helping those going through cancer treatment.

Going dry is great for your own health too, with evidence mounting that the risk of developing certain types of cancers, like cancer of the throat and the upper gut, is increased with increasing amounts of alcohol consumption.

It even affects how cancers respond to treatment, with a high rate of cancer relapse in breast and bowel cancer for people with high rates of alcohol consumption.

Dry July is trying to highlight exactly this point of the increasing recognition of a connection between cancer and alcohol, while carrying out a wide-ranging program that supports a lot of different initiatives for patients of cancer and their carers.

As an oncologist I think people receiving treatment experience a psychological benefit from seeing the people around them participating in activities like Dry July - be it their family, colleagues or even the people who work at the place where they are receiving their treatment.

Not only does it encourage the patients, it also helps the family members.

You don't have to do it alone, either.

We see local sporting clubs trying to get people involved in fundraising and awareness efforts for cancer, and even groups of friends.

We have also seen collections taken at workplaces, and people participating in fun runs.

Check out the Dry July Health Hub for tips on making the most of the month.

Dry July is operating a little differently this year, where you can choose the number of days you go dry for.

Have a completely Dry July for 31 days, or have a Dry(ish) July of 21 or 14 days.

You can even buy a golden ticket, which lets you have the night off your dry pledge for that special event.

Since its inception in 2008 the Dry July program has raised $49 million for people affected by cancer, thanks to 200,000 'dry' participants. To register for Dry July visit the website www.dryjuly.com.

Is Dry July actually useful for patients?

Money raised through Dry July helps provide treatment and accommodation centres with equipment and furnishings; specialist cancer nurses; helping patients with transport and comfort items such as wigs and turbans; and the provision of information about cancer and treatment in accessible and multilingual formats.

Going through cancer treatment can be a confusing and emotionally draining process, so music, art and animal therapy help patients manage their physical side effects as well as spending time with other people who are facing the same challenges.

Recovery from cancer treatments is an important focus of late, through rehabilitation and survivorship programs. Programs like those that help survivors adjust to life after cancer, including nutrition, exercise, psychological support and financial advice are valuable as cancer survivors are at an increased risk for long-term morbidity and financial grief caused by the treatment.

Young people experiencing cancer also receive counselling to help them develop their skills and confidence for future education and careers.

This story Going dry for a good reason first appeared on The Canberra Times.