The truth of the matter is, no matter what kind of alcohol you consume, can be poisonous and has the potential to cause serious health problems. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), an alarming 3 million people die due to alcohol consumption each year. That is 5.3% of all deaths worldwide. Additionally, the U.S. National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence has dubbed alcohol “the most regularly used addictive substance.” Yet despite all this, alcohol is heavily promoted as socially acceptable and even healthy at low levels of consumption.
The Promotion of Alcohol Is Out of Control
Advertising budgets for the big alcohol manufacturers in the U.S. are in the billions of dollars. And that advertising is successful. People in the U.S. spend over $220 billion a year on alcohol. The alcohol industry has even been caught funding research into the health benefits of alcohol. This can easily result in biased research, which is why the National Institutes of Health (NIH) stepped in and ended the funding for one study.
The study was intended to link the health benefits of moderate alcohol consumption with the health of the cardiovascular system. Major players in the alcohol industry were asked to help fund the study by George Koob, the director of the National Institute of Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA). In particular, Koob had emailed Samir Zakhari of the Distilled Spirits Council and asked him to help fund the study in return for good results for the alcohol industry.
It may come as no surprise that the NIH was concerned that the study itself wouldn’t be credible, particularly since the Advisory Committee to the Director (ACD) brought into question the credibility of the process for finding funding for the research. The reality is that alcohol is harmful to the human body. Consuming alcohol in any quantity increases your risk for a number of health conditions.
Spreading the Truth
Educating the public on the dangers of alcohol is no small task. However, it turns out the government is having a hard time keeping up with the advertising and promotion that is aggressively pursued by the alcohol industry. Doctor David Jernigan, director of the Center on Alcohol Marketing and Youth (CAMY) at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, says, “Any health messaging about alcohol is completely overwhelmed by conservatively $3.5 billion to $4 billion in the U.S. alone of alcohol marketing. There’s just so much marketing for alcohol out there … health messages can’t keep up.”
Furthermore, the alcohol industry has influenced change in the laws that cover alcohol production, sales, and use, making them more lax. This aggressive marketing combined with lenient laws work together to ensure people are unaware of just how dangerous alcohol is. There are a number of health problems associated with alcohol consumption. For example, many people are aware that alcohol use is the cause of:
- 18% of all suicides
- 27% of traffic injuries
- 48% of cirrhosis of the liver diagnoses
- 13% of epilepsy cases
However, one of the links many people are unaware of is the link between alcohol consumption and cancer. Since 2012, The WHO has recognized alcohol as a Group 1 carcinogen. This means that alcohol can increase a person’s risk for cancer, particularly the following types:
- Upper throat
The problem is that many people don’t know about the link between alcohol consumption and cancer. Breast cancer is a particularly dangerous result of alcohol consumption, and one that most women don’t know about. Dr. Jernigan lays the facts out and they’re not pretty, “Breast cancer is one of those alcohol-related consequences that many people are simply unaware of. In the U.S., 15% of cases of breast cancer are considered caused by alcohol use. And a third of these cases occur at consumption of less than a drink and half a day.”
What Can Be Done
The WHO has stepped up and urged countries around the world to put into effect measures that will reduce alcohol consumption. The key, according to Dr. Jernigan, is to reduce the attractiveness, affordability, and availability, what he calls the 3 A’s. This can be done by:
- Curbing marketing to reduce the attractiveness of alcohol
- Increase alcohol taxes regularly to make it less affordable
- Make alcohol less physically available to the public
Research has shown that action taken in these three areas is the most effective way to help cut down on the amount of alcohol consumed by people. Unfortunately, in the U.S., health agencies are intricately involved with the alcohol industry, resulting is the 3 A’s being ignored. This means it is up to the government to support these initiatives and make the necessary changes to legislation.
Alcohol . It is linked to an increase risk of many types of health conditions, diseases, and injuries. One of the generally unknown links is between alcohol use and cancer. AAC wants everyone who chooses to drink to have a solid understanding of the extent of the risk, so they are making an informed decision. After all, it is every person’s right to have all the available information so they can protect themselves if they choose to do so.
About AAC and Alcohol.org
Alcohol.org is a resource of AAC that is dedicated to the education of the American public, with the goal of helping people understand the seriousness of alcohol use disorder (AUD) and to help eliminate misconceptions about AUD and challenge the cultural norms around drinking.
AAC is a leading organization, dedicated to providing addiction treatment services to Americans in treatment centers across the U.S. They offer 90-day treatment programs, with a guarantee that patients will stay clean and sober, or they will receive an additional 30 days of treatment at no extra charge. AAC treatment programs are designed with a holistic approach in mind, taking into account a patient’s environment, lifestyle, and physical and mental health. AAC is the only publicly traded treatment organization in the country and they have a success rate that is double the national average.
If you or someone you know has experienced blackouts more than once and you feel you need help, please call us on our 24/7 helpline for the public at 1-800-ALCOHOL. For more information visit americanaddictioncenters.org and follow them on Twitter and Facebook.