The truth about alcohol


We’ve all heard the about the benefits of drinking alcohol: red wine is good for your heart health, whiskey can cure the common cold, and vodka can freshen breath, among others. It can be easy to believe what we want to hear, but alcohol consumption can actually cause many health concerns, including cancer.

The sobering news is that alcohol is one of the top three causes of cancer deaths worldwide. Last year, it is estimated that as many as 10,700 Canadians were diagnosed with cancer linked to their alcohol consumption.

The Canadian Cancer Society recently commissioned a survey to find out how much Ontarians know about the link between cancer and alcohol. Results of the survey show that only 28% of Ontarians know that alcohol causes cancer, and 60% of Ontario women and 41% of Ontario men exceed the consumption guidelines recommended by the Society. Yet, two-thirds of Ontarians say they would likely reduce their consumption of alcohol if they learned that drinking alcohol increased their risk of cancer.

The survey also highlighted that 52% of respondents who drink alcohol do so to relax. While it is common for people to turn to alcohol during stressful times, or to loosen up, there are many other ways to find inner peace. Try exercising, writing down your stresses, taking a calming bath, or even just slow, deep breathing.

The fact is that the less alcohol you drink, the more you reduce your risk. Luckily, this doesn’t mean you need to give up the occasional glass of wine with dinner. The Society recommends that women have less than one standard drink per day and men have less than two standard drinks per day.

To help raise awareness about the importance of modifying alcohol consumption, the Society has partnered with Clear Heads International, who launched DryFeb. This campaign challenges social drinkers not to have a single drop of alcohol for the month of February, while collecting donations to help fund Canada’s most promising cancer research, prevention, and vital support services for patients and their families.

To challenge yourself to experience the mental and physical benefits from taking a break from booze, or to learn more about DryFeb, visit dryfeb.ca.