The Booze Bandwagon

Turns out drinking alcohol is bad for you. Who would have suspected that? Maybe everyone.

On Tuesday the Canadian Centre on Substance Use and Addiction released new guidelines an alcohol consumption and the potential health risks of drinking are more than previously thought. Any more than one or two drinks a week significantly increases your cancer risk – and no amount of alcohol is considered safe.

Somehow I had missed that alcohol was a cause of cancer. Can’t say I’m really surprised – as Joe Jackson put it in 1980, everything gives you cancer.

Still, it’s a sobering thought. Or should be. But will the publicity (and possible warning labels on alcohol products) really make a difference? I doubt it

The US Surgeon General released a report in 1964 detailing the effects of tobacco on the human body. Even before that it was known that smoking was bad for your health. The report just sounded the alarm.

Cancer and other diseases flow from tobacco usage as night follows day. If you smoke you will get kung cancer, unless something else kills you first. Sounds like a similar problem with alcohol.

The link between smoking and disease has been accepted scientific fact for decades. During that time North American society has shown its displeasure towards tobacco products. Smoking indoors is pretty much banned everywhere, and even outdoors smoking is discouraged.

Given that, you would think there would be no smokers left by now, and no market for tobacco products. Except that isn’t the case. Smokers may be a smaller percentage of the population – but the population has grown. Millions of people still smoke.

Sharp increases in cigarette costs aren’t the deterrent regulators expected. Pictures of diseased lungs on packaging are ignored. Smokers continue to smoke, and new smokers replace those who die.

Given that, I’m not convinced publicity and warnings about the effects of alcohol will have any significant effect. A few people may reduce consumption, but probably very few.

Smokers seem to think it is the other person who will get long cancer, not them. Why should we expect drinkers, social or otherwise, to be any different? Human nature is pretty much the same everywhere.

So now we know for sure. Drinking alcohol increases your risk of contracting cancer. Are you going to change your alcohol consumption habits?


One comment

  1. Sabrina Maddeaux of the National Post reviewed the CCSA’s report. Her conclusion: “However, a deeper dive into the CCSA’s methodology and full 89-page report reveals the evidence to be much less damning than the organization would have Canadians believe. One might go so far as to call it fatally flawed in favour of fear mongering.”
    The report itself acknowledges the limitations: “This project represents a synthesis of the best available evidence about the relationship between
    alcohol use and health outcomes. However, the current evidence base has limitations that are important to acknowledge. Specifically, there have been no randomized trials of alcohol consumption for any morbidity or mortality outcome. As noted in section 2.1.3, the observational studies that comprise the bulk of the evidence incorporated in this report are subject to a variety of threats to
    validity, mainly not controlling for confounding variables, only adjusting to age and sex.”

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