Alcohol: Cancer, ‘Safe’ Consumption and Choice

Recently I attended The Annual Women’s Health update forum held in Melbourne, March 2013, for doctors, nurses and allied health practitioners. Professor Ian Olver, CEO of Cancer Council Australia, shared his latest findings on alcohol and cancer. He presented evidence that alcohol consumption is a known cause of cancer and that:

  • the sites for these cancers are the mouth, pharynx, larynx, oesophagus, liver, female breast and colorectum,
  • cancer is increased because of the ethanol, regardless of the type of alcohol consumed, and
  • smoking and alcohol together are risk factors for 75% of head and neck cancers.

In summary, he stated there are no safe levels for alcohol consumption. 

GROWING UP WITH ALCOHOL: A NORMAL PART OF LIFE

This has definitely been my personal experience of those around me as I grew up, and in later life. I grew up with alcohol in an Italian household. My father’s wine was always placed on the dinner table as part of the meal for both lunch and dinner.

Family gatherings at relatives’ homes for special occasions swam in alcohol as it was handed out before the main meal, with different types for tasting with each dish, and then of course after the meal. By the time I was a young teenager of 12 or 13 my parents would dismiss me as being stupid and silly because I would refuse to drink the wine. My mother would say “Have a sip of wine, it will make you strong and build your blood”.

At high school alcohol was seen as something you could drink legally once you reached 18 and was seen as a coming of age ritual. Everywhere I went alcohol was seen as a normal part of life – at parties, social or work functions and at restaurants; it was advertised on the TV, in movies, commercials, cooking shows and on public noticeboards on the roadside or at railway stations. Doctors recommended a glass of wine with meals as good for you!

At 19 I started nursing and at that time it was obligatory that all 1st year nurses live in the nurse’s home. (Yippee! It meant leaving home.) But even there, alcohol was present in abundance. I found that amongst nurses and doctors, alcohol was drunk to relieve stress, celebrate the end of exams, or ‘just for fun’. Peer pressure kicked in and very occasionally I would take a sip of something alcoholic when out with friends so that I fitted in and was able to talk and appear to have more confidence. At the same time I knew that I just didn’t feel right when I did I felt like I had left my body and was looking on from a great distance. In the end it just wasn’t worth it and I chose to not drink.

HOW COULD ALCOHOL BE GOOD FOR YOU?

I started to question “How could alcohol be good for you?”. It certainly wasn’t good for me and I had lived with what it did within my own family, turning my father’s behaviour into someone I didn’t know any more.

As an adult, within my personal life I have experienced my sister-in-law – who was considered an alcoholic, smoked heavily, gambled, and worked full-time in a high pressure job – had breast cancer, later developed liver cirrhosis and finally committed suicide, leaving two young teenage children anguished and bewildered. My father, who I can see now was also an alcoholic, developed liver cancer secondary to bowel cancer, and recently died.

Both of these events left me further questioning just how vast the effects of alcohol are on people around us.

A few years ago I attended a workshop held by Universal Medicine, and Serge Benhayon was the speaker; he explained that alcohol, once drunk, affects you not only on a physical and emotional level, but also on an energetic level. You are clearly not yourself when you drink alcohol. This verified my instincts as a child that alcohol was a ‘poison’ to the body.

NO SAFE LEVELS FOR ALCOHOL CONSUMPTION

Today the death toll on the roads, increases in sexual abuse, marital violence, divorce and youth violence are all linked with alcohol consumption. And, if there are no safe levels for alcohol consumption, and there is a medically proven connection between alcohol and cancer, and alcohol and damaging behaviours  – is it not time for us all to take responsibility for the choice to consume alcohol; to be honest and feel what is really going on when that choice to drink is made?

by Loretta, Nurse, Melbourne, Australia

274 thoughts on “Alcohol: Cancer, ‘Safe’ Consumption and Choice

  1. I too have in my past felt like I needed to fit in socially and so I have accepted a bottle of beer only to duck out to the bathrooms to pour it down the sink and fill it up with tap water. I never liked beer but it was simpler to just accept the bottle and then just swap it for tap water without anyone knowing, rather than try to explain, argue or justify that I did not like drinking alcohol. By holding a beer bottle in my hand I was left alone and not pestered to be drinking. What a strange world we live in where we are not permitted to make supportive choices without someone trying to convince us otherwise.

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