Tag Archives: Ann Dowsett Johnston

We don’t want to know the cancer risk of our drug of choice

We love our booze. It’s our drug of choice.

Given 83 per cent of men and 74 per cent of women are drinkers; we don’t want to hear about the negative health effects. Most of us know about the repercussions of binge drinking, such as those who choose to drive while under the influence, but only one in three Canadians know that alcohol places you at an elevated risk for at least six cancers, including colorectal and breast cancer. That’s a national embarrassment. Alcohol-related cancers affect between 6200-9900 Canadians each year.

“People are very uncomfortable with this in our society,” veteran journalist Ann Dowsett Johnston said on Friday during a Toronto forum on cancer and alcohol. Public health advocacy groups have set low risk guidelines – two drinks per day for men, one for women, none for pregnant women – but Johnston says there has been very little traction on these guidelines.

The LCBO has distributed more than a million such leaflets on the guidelines. Did anyone actually read them?

Dowsett Johnston says we have become an alcogenic society. The promotion of alcohol is everywhere, from the glossy newspaper inserts to the media content itself. She calls the Saturday style section of the Globe and Mail the “cocktail section.”

Part of the problem is there is no consistent communication around how big the problem is. The reality is there is no safe level of alcohol consumption. When more than three quarters of Canadians are consumers, you try to mitigate risk, you don’t eliminate it. Evidence would suggest the more you drink, the higher the risk.

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