Tuesday, December 5, 2017

Don't become an ugly Christmas sweater: Dodge the holiday minefields

It'll come to you...
Relapse traps sneakily pop up on any page of the calendar, but the 63 days between Halloween and New Year's Day can be the trickiest gauntlet to run. Sequestering in a bunker? Not an option. Here are nine tips for not sweating the season of celebrations:

1) Stay out of your medicine chest. Cough and cold season is here. It's especially easy to overdo the cough meds. In typical addict fashion, the think the dosage on the label is only a suggestion and if a small amount works, the whole bottle will really kick the symptoms to the curb. Not so. And the little buzz from an OD of the over-the-counter drug can lead back to the drug of choice.

2) Stay out of your medicine chest: Part II. Another relapse trap in the medicine chest is sleep aids. With the time change and extra holiday-season stress, sleep is a casualty of the calendar. Alcohol is a depressant. Sleep aids are depressants. The brain doesn't make such an exact distinction between the two and, historically, drinkers have used alcohol as a sleep aid – or excused their drinking by saying it helps them sleep. It isn't just the prescription sleep aid like Abilify. It's also the OTC one, and especially concoctions like Motrin PM or Tylenol PM.

3) Find sober celebrations. Not as rare as you might think. If you're timid, take someone along with you who might be even newer to sobriety. If there aren't celebrations, it could be time for a diversion like a museum or pick a dry theater and watch The Last Jedi. All the older kids are doing it.

4) Bail out. There is nothing wrong with the word 'no.' We were all pretty creative with excuses for our drinking. If you are even slightly apprehensive about an event, put the same creativity to use for why you can't go. And if you're busted telling a little white one… isn't it better than possibly challenging your sobriety? Real friends understand.

5) If you can't bail, bring candy. Seriously. Satisfying an oral fixation can make a difference. The taste on your palate will make alcohol flavorings less inviting, too. If you've ever had a beer on top of a candy cane, you know.

6) Never stay late if you do go. Our reputations as the last soldiers standing – gone. Be the first leaving. Everyone has seen a dreaded morning after, or the photos of the night before, and uttered the words, 'I shoulda left way earlier.' The more tired you get, the weaker your defenses become. My grandmother's rule was that nothing good ever happens after 10 p.m. anyway.

7) Go help another alcoholic who might be struggling. The twelve-steppers founded their fellowship on this simple act. Even if you're not a twelve-stepper or vow to never become one, give this a try. It works. There's a flawed thinking that the holidays are an inappropriate time to challenge someone who's challenged by drugs including alcohol. It may be the best gift you ever give the person with the disease of addiction – and the family around him or her. Inside every sick person sick with this disease is a trembling, sorry, sad person dying to feel well again. Invite him or her out onto the path to recovery. In the case of the disease of alcoholism, there's no worse time than waiting for tomorrow or the New Year. You wouldn't imagine postponing treatment for a chronic, fatal, progressive disease like cancer. Why postpone it for a chronic, fatal, progressive disease like alcoholism? If the worry is that it wouldn't be the holiday without that person near, what have the past few holidays told you about that… and what if there isn't a next holiday?

8) Breathe. The holidays are loaded with financial stress, family stress, traffic stress, cold-and-flu stress, and end-of-the-year work stress in addition to the normal, everyday stress of life. Alcoholics and non-alcoholics alike drink to relieve stress. There isn't a single stressor that is cured by drinking: There isn't one that got worse because you chose to just breathe rather than drinking it off the calendar.

9) Be brutally honest with yourself. The biggest charge in the holiday minefield is in the eight-inch gap between your left ear and your right. Nearly every relapse comes in the collision between reality and the five words, 'It won't happen to me.' Here's the very alcoholic reason why I still have Ibuprofen PM in my own nightstand: Because it won't happen to me, the second warning above is only for those other guys, right? Right.

By the way, these nine aren't just for the end of the year and the start of the new one. They work anytime.

– Scott Stevens is the author of four, award-winning alcohol and health books, The A-Files: Alcohol A-Z DVD series,, and the Alcohology app for Android. He is a founding influencer of the world's largest medical portal HealthTap, and serves as Editor In Chief for AddictedMinds & Associates, the only professionally-vetted treatment center directory. Stevens originally published this article in Keys to Recovery. Image by Marina Gloria Gallud Carbonell used with permission.

Thursday, November 9, 2017

Wisconsin proposes creating the next generation of damaged adults because profit trumps health

Assembly Speaker Robin Vos (R - Burlington), became the voice of reason by not throwing in with special interests' Nov. 8 attempt to lower Wisconsin's drinking age, effectively killing the proposal's future. (JournalSentinel article.) Alcohol is a toxin and known carcinogen. Instead of encouraging more people to drink by lowering the drinking age to 19, Wisconsin might want to focus on educating more kids about this drug.

The suggestions by the bill's sponsors that lowering the age to legally use this drug will save money is nearly as absurd as the concept that drinking a toxin 'in moderation' somehow has health benefits. At legal age 21, alcohol use – all alcohol use, not just drinking and driving or the disease of alcoholism – costs the economy $250 billion a year, mostly in lost productivity. That's enough to buy every man, woman, and child in the U.S. a 55-inch, HDTV for Christmas… every year. Increasing the number of legal drinkers is going to reduce the cost? A fine piece of fiction.

Of greater importance is the health impact. Increasing the drinking age was never about highway money or reducing drinking and driving, although they are lovely benefits. There are health consequences for developing brains. Cognitive damage in a developing brain lasts well past the hangover. Drinking in any amount reduces brain myelin, impairs cognitive and behavior control, and physically alter brain structure. This. Toxin. Changes. DNA. Lowering the drinking age will ultimately lead to impairments in brain function in adulthood. Since the brain's frontal lobes develop into the mid-20's, if we want to reduce social costs associated with drinking, raising the age of legal use would be more practical.

Brain damage is so significant it overshadows the cancer risk of a known carcinogen. The concern is especially acute for women drinkers of the only dietary link to an increased risk of breast cancer. The younger a woman starts, the higher the risk. Breast tissue is developing at age 21... again a case for increasing the drinking age rather than lowering it.

The public and political appetite (FYI: Beverage alcohol is among the top-spenders in elections) for raising the drinking age isn't there. And it isn't practical. What's practical is beginning alcohol education at earlier grades in the same fashion we start tobacco education. At it's simplest, it starts will calling alcohol a drug.

With that in mind, shame on the sponsors for suggesting the fictional cost savings from lowering the drinking age would be used for drug treatment. Treatment of the same drug you're peddling? Or were you only suggesting that to ride the coattails of the public interest in the opioid topic when you're fully aware that the accountability for actually spending the money for treatment doesn't exist?

Scott Stevens, is the author of four alcohol books including the December 2016 release, I Can’t See The Forest With All These Damn Trees In The Way: The Health Consequences of Alcohol. Get the new BookLocker title now on Amazon (,, and everywhere you buy books.  Click Alcopocalypse for the author’s 2017 Alcohol Awareness Month whitepaper. Image by  Peter Lecko, used with permission.

Image by Andrew Jalbert, used with permission.

Sunday, October 8, 2017

Michelob targets teens on Instagram: Self-regulation's epic fail

michelob, ad, alcohol
In the process of running an ad on social media platforms, a business is able to target ads by any combination of  'interests' or location or age or gender. This ad above was delivered to a high school senior, Sunday, Oct. 8, in his Instagram feed. His user profile indicates he is seventeen. The browser history shows ZERO visits to alcohol profiles or pages.

Anheuser-Busch Companies, maker of Michelob Ultra, is one of several alcohol manufacturers capitalizing on the perfect storm of the untamed Wild West of social media combined with an industry permitted to police itself.

Although alcohol is a legal substance for adults age 21 or older, it is the leading drug used by underage American youth. The drug is one of the three leading risk factors for global disease burden according to study appearing in Lancet in 2012.  In adolescents in particular, alcohol use increases the likelihood of injury, addiction and death, and of course the risky behaviors teens are known to find tempting... but it also damages a brain that isn't fully developed until their 20's.  

Exposure to alcohol marketing has been identified as one factor that may lead to underage alcohol consumption. While nobody really needs a 'longitudinal study' to come to that conclusion, one was done and the hard numbers appeared in Addiction in Oct. 2016. A previous article noted that the Center on Alcohol Marketing and Youth at Georgetown University (CAMY) has found that youth in the United States were 96 times more likely per capita to see an ad promoting alcohol than an industry ad discouraging underage drinking.

No clear rules, no independent review of content

Industry watchdog, California-based AlcoholJustice, keeps tabs on the sketchy practices engaged by the alcohol makers and the ad agencies pimping them. "Alcohol ads are ubiquitous on public transit, billboards, sports stadiums, and digital media. Facebook, YouTube, and Twitter offer inexpensive, virtually unregulated promotional platforms to alcohol producers and marketers, who encourage youth to build relationships with their brands."

Alcohol ads are shown to a somewhat gullible, very impressionable, and ultimately naive audience that isn't even old enough to purchase, possess. or consume the drug because there's a 'bro code' in the alcohol industry: Their ad policies are voluntary and self-regulated. As a result, teens are going to get served the ads because the fox is supervising the chicken coop. 

The Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau (TTB) has guidelines defining everything from blogs and social networks to video sharing sites and micro blogging services as 'advertising.' As such, "any use of social media by industry members is subject to the same limitations, requirements and restrictions as any other form of advertising previously has been, among other guidelines...

... ads must be limited to an audience where at least 70 percent are of drinking age. 

It's a guideline, remember. And it's self-policed. 

Where does the 70 percent figure come from? The overall census of the U.S. says 70 percent of us are 21 or older. The census of social media platforms doesn't mate up well with the overall population however. Pew Research (click on their link to the complete .pdf report) shows 72 percent of its users are under age 18. 

Of the 500,000 advertisers on Instagram, you wouldn't count on seeing a business that has a self-imposed rule of not advertising to minors

By the way, Instagram only appeals to four percent of adults over 65 years of age. As for American teenagers, in a Piper Jaffray semi-annual Taking Stock With Teens survey, 32 percent described Instagram as their most important social network, second only to Snapchat. Statista shows the share of teenagers in the United States who were Instagram users as of March 2015, sorted by gender and age group. During that period of time, 64 percent of female U.S. teens aged 15 to 17 years used the social networking app. 

Advertising a label or a company to establish brand identity is what companies do. In the uber-competitive beverage industry, brand loyalty is everything. It would appear the alcohol makers are attempting to establish their brand with would-be users of their beverage when they're old enough. Which all seems odd when we're talking about a toxic, carcinogenic drug rather than Kool-Aid.

We do more to curtail junk-food advertising aimed at young people than we do to prevent them from soaking in alcohol ads. “There’s very strong evidence that underage drinkers are not only exposed to the advertising, but they also assimilate the messages,” says James D. Sargent, MD. “That process moves them forward in their drinking behavior.” Sargent is the study author of a Jan. 2016 report in JAMA linking the ads kids see and what they do with the information. He’s professor of pediatrics at Dartmouth’s Geisel School of Medicine. And he’s summarized the same message a dozen other reports have stated since 1996.
"Underage drinking harms teens, their families and their communities,” adds Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Director Tom Frieden. "Exposing teens to alcohol advertising undermines what parents and other concerned adults are doing to raise healthy kids.”

If OxyContin was advertised to teens on social media, the FTC, mainstream media, and the Attorneys General of 50 states would be on drug maker Purdue Pharma like a hobo on a ham sandwich. A deadlier teen drug is promoted on teens' favorite app and everyone takes a nap.
The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has overall oversight of advertising and has been conducting a study for more than a year on alcohol-beverage companies’ use of online advertising, with the results yet to be released. FTC will focus on age verification – a subject the TTB guidelines on social media do not address.

Like the Michelob Ultra sponsored post shown above, kids are being delivered ads where they live: Instagram and other popular platforms that are saturated with adolescent users. They'll get Ultra right alongside the selfies, Selena Gomez posts, and the snap of the pizza slice a friend is about to down. Self-regulation.  It works until it doesn't. Just ask the financial services industry.

Don't just fix the shocks, fill the potholes.

Even the addiction recovery professional and paraprofessionals nap on such front-end, front-line issues. Things like this advertising issue on Instagram are barely on the radar of recovery advocates, be they treatment centers or interventionists. They're overburdened as it is with treating the ill and have little time or disposable assets to address prevention. Aside from the massive economic and public health concern America's insatiable appetite for alcohol creates (see related video), no alcoholic ever became alcoholic without taking the first drink. Period.

Certainly not everyone who drinks becomes alcoholic, but a report from the National Institutes for Health definitively links teen use with higher alcoholism risk later in life. In a nerdy analysis, it would seem a recovery advocate would be sacrificing job security by supporting prevention efforts. Not true. There will always be drug users and those genetically predisposed to the disease of addiction. Recovery advocacy is crucial... prevention is essential. It's like being part mechanic, part street crew: You put new shocks on cars that have run through potholes  and sooner rather than later you just fix the stupid potholes. Instagram's Michelob ad...that's a pothole.

For more reading on alcohol advertising, see 

Alcohol advertising in sports blasted for 'grooming child drinkers,' bans becoming popular internationally

Scott Stevens, is the author of four alcohol books including the December 2016 release, I Can’t See The Forest With All These Damn Trees In The Way: The Health Consequences of Alcohol. Get the new BookLocker title now on Amazon (,, and everywhere you buy books.  Click Alcopocalypse for the author’s 2017 Alcohol Awareness Month whitepaper. Image by  Peter Lecko, used with permission.

Friday, September 29, 2017

Breast Cancer Awareness Month: Revealing alcohol's role begins to unravel the ribbon

breast cancer, alcohol, awareness month

Ladies... and men who care... listen up: There is one and only one unchallenged dietary link to an increased risk of breast cancer. That link is alcohol consumption.

To date, the only dietary link to an increased risk of breast cancer is alcohol use. One in eight women will have an encounter with breast cancer in her lifetime. It takes relatively little alcohol to boost the cancer risk. As little as one drink a day can provide a double digit increase in the chance of getting the disease. Three or more servings of alcohol per day gives you the same risk as a daily pack of cigarettes.

Think about that for a minute: With all the news regarding the link between smoking and cancer, the alcohol link is as strong and well documented, but far less publicized. For now. 
The whitepaper, Alcopocalypse, predicts the next 10 years for the alcohol business will look like the last 20 have for tobacco. 

Alcohol's causal relationship with breast cancer isn't new. More than 100 studies 1920-2017 have conclusively linked alcohol consumption to increased breast cancer risk. New research continues every year, delving deeper into the link, especially how alcohol disrupts hormones and even genes. 

Alcohol increases production of estrogen. Estrogen increases are behind 80 percent of breast cancers. Toxic alcohol also creates another toxin – acetaldehyde. That second toxin has been shown to alter DNA and breast tissue in younger drinkers, leading to increased cancer risk later in life. A Journal of the National Cancer Institute report showed a double-digit increase in breast cancer risk for women who drank as little as one drink daily between the first menstruation and the first pregnancy. The results were independent of drinking after first pregnancy. That study also discovered an increase in benign breast disease, a non-cancerous condition which accounts for 80 percent of breast lumps. These benign lumps do increase the risk of breast cancer by 500 percent. The more alcohol consumed between the onset of the first menstrual period and the first pregnancy, the greater the risk for both benign breast disease and breast cancer.

In another recent study, a University of Houston researcher and his team have discovered an important link between alcohol and breast cancer by identifying a cancer-causing gene triggered by alcohol. The 2015 Houston research shows alcohol enhances the actions of estrogen in driving the growth of breast cancer cells and diminishes the effects of the cancer drug Tamoxifen on blocking estrogen by increasing the levels of a cancer-causing gene. 

A consensus panel formed by the American Institute for Cancer Research (AICR) a decade ago concluded: "The evidence on cancer justifies a recommendation not to drink alcoholic drinks" ... a recommendation still maintained by the organization.

Only one in 10 adults knows alcohol is a carcinogen. 'Why haven't consumers been advised of the increased risk?' is a simple question to answer. Where do most people get information about alcohol? From the alcohol makers or from studies funded by themTheir information has been manipulated to protect the profitability of the drug they make, according to a new study by London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine (LSHTM) and Sweden's Karolinska Institute. The study claims alcohol giants are not exactly striving to educate consumers and marketers are misleading customers by hidieng facts from the public about cancer links to alcohol. Published in the Sept. 2017 journal Drug and Alcohol Review, the study found in 2016, that 30 companies misled the public about alcohol's connection to breast cancer risk. See Hey Alcohol Biz: The 90's called and wants their liars back.

Bottom line: Alcohol is a drug that's toxic and carcinogenic. Drinking it and expecting healthy results is like peeing in a Mr. Coffee and expecting Starbucks.

Scott Stevens, is the author of four alcohol books including the December 2016 release, I Can’t See The Forest With All These Damn Trees In The Way: The Health Consequences of Alcohol. Get the new BookLocker title now on Amazon (,, and everywhere you buy books.  Click Alcopocalypse for the author’s 2017 Alcohol Awareness Month whitepaper. Image by  Peter Lecko, used with permission.

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Busting the flashy car for 75 mph to let the 250 mph Peterbilt pass

drug epidemic, opioid crisis

The public relations approach to hiding an alcohol pandemic

In opioid news this week, state attorneys general across the country are stepping up their game against the opioid crisis. Awhile back, the AGs sent letters to insurers, asking them to do more to curb the opioid epidemic. Now, they say they're expanding an ongoing investigation into pharmaceutical companies make or distributing opioids. That's according to MedPage Today. The publication also reports the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) offered up an additional $144 million in grants for preventing and treating opioid addiction … a crisis costing the economy $78.5 billion a year.

That's correct. Opioid use and addiction costs the U.S. $78.5 billion.  
Alcohol use and addiction costs the U.S. $250 billion a year, using the same measurements of health care costs, lost productivity, and legal system expenses.
We focus on an epidemic, so we don't have to focus on a pandemic. The 75 mph 'vette gets the ticket. The 250 mph Peterbilt gets a pass. Classic PR.
The public relations tactician works it something like this: 

Pick a drug – One that is sold only by prescription, generating profit for a few, wealthy souls vs. a drug sold nearly everywhere in the U.S., generating profit (and tax revenue… but not as much as you think) for every restaurant, bar, retailer, grocer, hotel, gas station, henhouse, outhouse, and doghouse where it's sold. Villify alcohol? Not on your life.

Draft in support – According to, Big Pharma contributed $163 million to local, state, and federal candidates in 2016… alcohol interests (manufacturers, distributors, retailers) donated $219 million. Don't bite the hand.

Choose an opponent you can outspend – put beverage alcohol spending at $421 million in a single calendar quarter. Every one of those ads tells Americans we can drink a toxin and known carcinogen 'responsibly.' You're not going to run with these big dogs. Stay on the porch.

Capitalize on ignorance – Fewer than 1 in 10 Americans know that alcohol kills three times as many people as opioids (89,000/yr. vs. 30,000/yr). Less than 1 in 4 know that alcohol's a carcinogen and a third of the 22,000 annual alcohol-related U.S. cancer deaths occurred in people who had downed one and a half drinks a day or less. Alcohol is legal. Legal equals 'safe' in our society. Except for those nasty drunk drivers, binge-drinking college kids and hard-core, red-nosed alcoholics, this isn't a drug: It's responsible and fun in moderation. Opiates and opioids are controlled substances, illegal without a prescription, and have a high risk of addiction and/or overdose. Nevermind the medicinal relief in chronic pain situations: Opioids are definitely the baddie.

Don't make them think, either – There is a short line between opioid use and overdose death. Drinking alcohol is more like stepping out onto the highway and waiting for the Peterbuilt to hit you: It could take years or decades. Too many dots to connect – and other causes to which to pin the death while you're waiting. Brevity is better in our 'always-on' planet. A recent Pew Internet study in the US suggests that people benefit from instant access to a wealth of information from numerous sources, but their attention span and desire for in-depth analysis is consequently diminished. That's how we got the term bounce rate. “If you start a message and I can't see the end from the beginning, I will find it elsewhere… and bounce.” Opioid tragedies tell what time it is… alcohol deaths tell how to build a watch.

Sell the sizzle, not the steak – There are 91 deaths a day from opioid overdose. Opiates and opioids take lives in a single-dose for some people. And sadly, the lives are often kids and young adults that society wouldn't have picked out as a drug user. The old newsroom saying was, “If it bleeds, it leads.” Crass and cynical? Yes. Accurate? Pretty close. Stories of an honor student dying are tragedies with great images on par with hurricanes, school shootings, and blazes… compared to someone dying a death from alcohol-related illness like heart attack, stroke or cancer.

Wag the dog – We have a genuine health crisis. The opioid problem is real and tragic and a worthwhile fight. Now, if we turn a genuine health crisis and spin it up to an epidemic… maybe we don't have to talk about a pandemic or other health crises like fetal alcohol spectrum disorders (FASDs) which are now more prevalent than autism. It's the sleight of hand performed by politicians, PR wags, confidence men, and magicians for millennia: Watch what I do with this hand, while the other takes your wallet. Or your health. 

And, most importantly of all, don't make enemies – According to the 2015 National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH), 86.4 percent of people ages 18 or older reported that they drank alcohol at some point in their lifetime; 70.1 percent reported that they drank in the past year; 56.0 percent reported that they drank in the past month. Even if you went with the lowest figure, 56 percent of adults used alcohol in the last thirty days. That's 137 million adults. By American Society of Addiction Medicine (ASAM) stats, 2.5 million adults have substance use disorder involving prescription pain relievers or heroin. You've got a good shot at convincing me something is bad if you're not doing it. You're even more effective telling me something is bad if I'm not doing it.

It's not the back bumper of the Peterbilt that hits you

What we've got here, is failure to communicate: There's a drug acceptance problem in the U.S. There's not just an opioid overdose crisis. There isn't only an alcohol pandemic. There isn't a weed legalization debate. The problem is cultural in the way we normalize drug use, stigmatize those who've become ill from them, and throw too little money, too late, at treatment instead of prevention. Did any alcoholic become alcoholic without taking the first drink? Is any case of alcohol-related injury or illness possible without a first drink? Giving a 'gateway drug' a free pass negates prevention efforts on other drugs we find less 'responsible.'

No amount of PR is going to paper over it for long before it becomes fiscally unsustainable.

Scott Stevens, is the author of four alcohol books including the December 2016 release, I Can’t See The Forest With All These Damn Trees In The Way: The Health Consequences of Alcohol. Get the new BookLocker title now on Amazon (,, and everywhere you buy books.  Click Alcopocalypse for the author’s 2017 Alcohol Awareness Month whitepaper. Image by  Peter Lecko, used with permission.

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Gambling with FASD and the unborn: What. If. They're. Wrong.

FASD, alcohol myths

A widely reported Sept. 8, 2017 analysis, based on data published in the online journal BMJ Open, indicates the possible harmful effects of light or occasional alcohol consumption during pregnancy is “surprisingly limited.” While the point of the study was that there is damage to the unborn no matter the quantity of alcohol...the article was spun up by the alcohol industry (and media in a rush to appease alcohol advertisers -- which Facebook actually did with this post to kowtow to alcohol advertisers) as "there isn't much to worry about so drinking a little is ok while expecting."

That's relieving news to an expectant mom, right? What if the seemingly unchallenged and widely reported news is wrong?

The analysis is contrary to common sense, and does not mesh with pediatricians' recommendations. The American Academy of Pediatrics reiterated in a 2015 report that no amount of alcohol in any trimester is safe. Authors said in the report: First trimester drinking (vs. no drinking) produces 12 times the odds of giving birth to a child with FASD, first and second trimester drinking increases FASD odds 61 times, and drinking in all trimesters increases FASD odds 65 times. (For more on FASD, see the video below, or follow the transcript)

This new report doesn't pass the smell test and its broad distribution comes courtesy of the clout of the alcohol industry, known for distorting and denying the health consequences of the drug they manufacture. That, and a cultural willingness to believe in unicorns and other wishful thinking (see related story).  The new report was based on observational studies. Observational studies do not take into account all the other lifestyle factors of a mom-to-be. Or misinformation. Face it: When questioned by a physician – facing possible stigmatizing comments or fearing being 'reported' somewhere – what new mother is going to admit to the amount or frequency of alcohol use during pregnancy?

Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders (FASD) are now more common than autism and a child is born with one in the range of FASDs every 4.5 minutes. There is nothing in any evidence suggesting drinking this 'safe' amount of alcohol during pregnancy will lower that statistic.

The unborn use the same blood and therefore have the same blood alcohol concentration (BAC) as the mother. The fetus lacks the ability to process the alcohol the way an adult does, so the BAC remains high for a long time, causing a number of physical, cognitive, social and neurological problems that are permanent and irreversible. And sometimes fatal. 

As many as 40,000 babies are born with an FASD annually, costing the U.S. up to $6 billion annually in institutional and medical costs. Costs of FAS alone are estimated at between 1 and 5 million dollars per child.

And what of a child exposed to alcohol in-utero who doesn't develop FASD? A 2016 study conducted by the Center for Development and Behavioral Neuroscience even suggests the child exposed to alcohol in the womb, with or without an FASD, is more prone to alcohol use disorders the rest of his or her life. Something you wouldn't wish upon your worst enemy.

Scott Stevens, is the author of four alcohol books including the December 2016 release, I Can’t See The Forest With All These Damn Trees In The Way: The Health Consequences of Alcohol. Get the new BookLocker title now on Amazon (,, and everywhere you buy books.  Click Alcopocalypse for the author’s 2017 Alcohol Awareness Month whitepaper. Image by  Peter Lecko, used with permission.

Friday, September 8, 2017

Hey, Alcohol biz: The 90's called. They want their liars back.

Sept. 2017 research by the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine and the Karolinska Institute in Sweden has revealed the extent to which the alcohol industry is denying alcohol's causal role in cancer. In other words, the alcohol industry has torn a page from the tobacco playbook of two decades ago to take a 3-D approach to marking a known carcinogen: Deny. Distort. Distract.

In an infamous Congressional hearing in 1994, the leaders of the tobacco industry (pictured above) swore under oath that nicotine was not addictive and that smoking did not cause cancer. Notable among them was Andrew Tisch, then CEO of the Lorriland brands of smokes. The executives denied conclusions of a consensus of independent scientists and health experts that their product caused cancer. It was later revealed that the companies knew the cancer link decades before their Congressional 'come-to-Jesus' meeting and the Tobacco Settlement three years later.

Here we are again.

Over the past two decades, numerous studies have shown a strong link between even moderate drinking and cancer. (See related A-Files segments on the cancer connection: Episode B: Breast Cancer video transcript, Episode C: Cancer video  transcript and Episode Z: Zero Health Benefit video transcript, as well as the book I Can't See the Forest With All These Damn Treesin the Way: Health Consequences of Alcohol.) Bottom line: Scientists estimate that alcohol is responsible for at least four percent of new cancer diagnoses annually. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services lists it as a known carcinogen. You wouldn't know it by listening to the alcohol industry. But would you really expect your mother-in-law to be a fair arbiter of your marital dispute?

The study authors looked at 30 websites from alcohol trade groups in the U.K., Europe, the U.S., Canada and Australia. One – The Wine Information Council – even claimed that wine actually protects against several forms of cancer including breast, lung and kidney. Another – U.S.-based International Alliance for Responsible Drinking – said that light to moderate drinking was 'not ‘significantly' associated with an increased risk of tumors.

The authors said the tactics used by the alcohol industry were very similar to those used by tobacco firms for 50 years to play down the risk of lung cancer and were particularly misleading about the link between breast cancer. Alcohol use is the only dietary link to an increase risk of breast cancer.

Professor Mark Petticrew, of the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, concluded: "The weight of scientific evidence is clear that drinking alcohol increases the risk of some of the most common forms of cancer. Our analysis suggests that the major global alcohol producers may attempt to mitigate this by disseminating misleading information about cancer through their 'responsible drinking' bodies.

"This has obvious parallels with the global tobacco industry's decades-long campaign to mislead the public about the risk of cancer, which also used front organizations and corporate social activities.”

The alcohol industry response is that the research was 'misleading' and said they were already advising consumers to drink responsibly. As if it were possible to consume a toxin and carcinogen 'responsibly.' Henry Ashworth, president of the International Alliance for Responsible Drinking, said: ”We do not agree with the conclusions reached in this paper. We stand by the information that we publish on drinking and health.” That sounds an awful lot like Tisch's statement that, “Smoking does not cause cancer.”

Public awareness of alcohol/cancer connection is low. It has been argued that greater public awareness, particularly of the risk of breast cancer, poses a significant threat to the alcohol industry. So we trudge back to the 90's and dig up some lies that only flew within the board rooms and marketing departments of companies profiting from the unobstructed flow of the drug, alcohol.

Deny. Distract. Distort.

The alcohol industry has the normal duty of any manufacturer to ensure that it does not market a defective product and that its products are as safe as possible. Alcohol – a toxin and known carcinogen – is not safe in any amount, for either gender, at any age.

Scott Stevens, is the author of four alcohol books including the December 2016 release, I Can’t See The Forest With All These Damn Trees In The Way: The Health Consequences of Alcohol. Get the new BookLocker title now on Amazon (,, and everywhere you buy books.  Click Alcopocalypse for the author’s 2017 Alcohol Awareness Month whitepaper. Image by Kevin Carden, used with permission.