Those who thought that because they don’t smoke and are not obese or overweight, all is well in the wonderful world of the health nanny society, had better think again because alcohol is insistently being attacked by public health as we can read from the following article published yesterday in the Star. Those who were afflicted with the ‘’why me and not him’’ syndrome, instead of fighting the health nannies for the right reasons, will take comfort in knowing that misery loves company.
Openly admitting to follow the tobacco quasi prohibition tactics, tax increases, advertisement controls, ‘’brief interventions’’, are some of the measures that the health nannies are scheming for the sake of saving the ‘’youth’’ of course.
In a society where legal pleasure is being aggressively controlled and legislated, the only ones who will benefit from such measures are the underground economy and the pharmaceutical empire. The former who will make a fortune selling ‘’pleasure’’ at affordable prices just like we are presently witnessing with the rampant tobacco contraband and the latter who will openly market anti-depressants and miracle pills to control your cravings…for pleasure.
New studies confirm cancer is alcohol's deadly hangover
Just when many people were getting comfortable with the idea that our most popular drug – alcohol – is largely harmless to most, even beneficial to some, there is troubling news.
Alcoholic beverages – increasingly popular and widely promoted as a social lubricant, mealtime complement, relaxant, business facilitator and party favourite – have been identified as a major risk factor for cancer.
While this news recently received media attention, medical and epidemiological researchers have known or suspected this for years. Noteworthy recent developments have provided a strong rationale for our governments to review our harm reduction policies, and for those of us who drink alcohol – that's 78 per cent of Ontarians – to rethink our personal practices.
The first development was the recent review by the World Health Organization's International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC). In February 2007, a group of 26 scientists from 15 countries met in Lyon, France, to reassess the carcinogenicity of alcoholic beverages by reviewing several thousand underlying studies in humans and animals.
As reported in the medical journal Lancet Oncology in April of this year, the group identified alcohol as a contributing cause of mouth and oropharynx cancer, esophageal cancer, liver cancer, laryngeal cancer, and now, colon, rectal and breast cancer.
But doesn't this risk apply only to people who consume large quantities of alcohol?
Certainly there is a "dose response relationship," where larger amounts of consumption lead to higher relative risks for breast cancer and all other cancers caused by alcohol. But surprisingly, the relative risk for breast cancer is significantly increased with regular consumption of even about 18 grams of alcohol per day – slightly more than a standard bottle of beer, shot of spirits or glass of wine. This finding is based on a pooled analysis of 53 studies of more than 58,000 women.
The second development occurred on Oct. 31, 2007, when the American Institute for Cancer Research and the World Cancer Research Fund released its major report on lifestyle and dietary characteristics for several types of cancer. The authors concluded that there is convincing evidence linking consumption of alcohol to elevated cancer risk, and indicated that if people do drink, they should consume no more than one drink per day for women and two for men.
That same day, academic experts and senior representatives of cancer and public health agencies were holding a seminar on alcohol and cancer in Toronto. Discussions included how the role of alcohol as a carcinogen is not well known to the general public, where media-based messages about the benefits of alcohol (often including inaccurate or exaggerated details) tend to dominate.
Is drinking really a health problem here? In recent years both overall consumption and high-risk drinking have increased in Ontario and Canada. These two indicators have both been linked with alcohol-related chronic disease, including cancers; overall, alcohol has been linked with more than 70 chronic conditions and types of trauma. In Canada, alcohol-related health, law enforcement, and workplace impact costs were estimated at almost $15 billion for 2002.
So what do we do about it? Thankfully, we already know what to do – tackle alcohol-related harm, including chronic disease, with the same level of social commitment as we have given to drinking and driving, and tobacco use. We do not need to wait years to develop and evaluate new approaches – there are policies and prevention strategies currently available that can reduce the risk at both the population and personal levels. These include:
Introduce pricing/taxation policies that ensure that the cost of alcohol at least keeps pace with the cost of living.
Ensure that there is no further expansion on the hours and days of sale of alcohol, and no increase in the number of alcohol outlets on a per capita basis (density control).
Have more effective and evidence-based server intervention programs and training of bar and other staff serving alcohol.
Expand services to those who wish to reduce their alcohol consumption by providing "brief interventions" through medical and other health-care facilities.
Modify the mandate of our liquor control agencies to ensure that control once again becomes central to their objectives and operating procedures.
Reduce the volume, scope and range of alcohol marketing and advertising – particularly those promotions that are most attractive to youth and young adults, who are most vulnerable and include many high-risk drinkers.
Comparable approaches have helped reduce the smoking rate in Ontario to an all-time low, especially among young people. It's time to acknowledge the harms of alcohol, and respond with the same commitment to protecting our health.
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