Sunday, 5 February 2012

Drinking Causes Cancer - the New Puritans play their Ace...

"Two glasses of wine a night triples risk of mouth cancer, government warns"

So screams the Telegraph today as it reports on the Church of Public Health's latest advertising campaign:

Television adverts which start running on Sunday evening will say that drinking "just a little bit more" than recommended daily limits for alcohol increases the risk of serious health problems. 

Apparently - although neither the article not the government cite the evidence for this or tell us about the actual risks - we are three-times "more likely" to get mouth cancer if we exceed daily recommended limits. And (what a surprise) the article features prohibitionists arguing for a minimum price for alcohol.

Drinking causes cancer! The biggest card in the New Puritan deck...

Over the past forty years alcohol consumption has risen considerably (up to 2002/3) and then fallen sharply. If there was a link between alcohol and mouth cancer you would expect the incidence of this condition to reflect that rise and fall. Here is a chart from Cancer Research UK showing mortality from mouth cancer from 1971 in the UK:

The incidence of this disease hasn't shifted at all over that time. I'm not saying alcohol isn't a risk factor but it doesn't seem to be a big one!

Perhaps they should ask why mouth cancer is the single most common cancer in Pakistani men?

In high-risk countries such as Sri Lanka, India, Pakistan and Bangladesh, oral cancer is the most common cancer in men and may account for up to 30% of all new cases of cancer compared to 3% in the UK and 6% in France.

Food for thought...



Curmudgeon said...

Yes, three times bugger all is still bugger all.

SadButMadLad said...

"neither the article not the government cite the evidence for this or tell us about the actual risks"

Whenever the actual figures are not shown, only the change in percentages, then the scare is not really a scare.

Also what they are not saying is if it due only to the alcohol or other factors related to drinking. Could it be that drinkers are more likely to smoke and therefore more likely to have oral cancer.

Or even that the increase in oral cancer is due to the increase in cleaniness. What you say? Cleaniness? How dos that work. From the increased use of mouth washes which are primarily alcohol thats what. Check Wiki's oral cancer article.