Drinking (and Everything Else) May Cause Cancer

Here’s a line from a just-released study on alcohol and cancer risk assessment, led by Paule Latino-Martel, a cancer researcher at the French National Institute for Agricultural Research:

“It can be concluded that there is no level of alcohol consumption for which the cancer risk is null. Thus, for cancer prevention, the consumption of alcoholic beverages should not be recommended.”

Fair enough. I live in a city and am exposed to carbon monoxide fumes every time I leave my condo, so I guess we can also say that, for cancer prevention, leaving my home is not recommended. Neither, I would suppose, is staying put, since who knows what sort of possible carcinogens are pumping through the air vents in my building, or seeping in from other condos where people might be smoking, or worse!

So I’ll move to the country and become a teetotaler, except that the methane from my neighbour’s cows could be carcinogenic, I suppose, and the exhaust from his tractor certainly is. Plus, what about the pesticides the fellow down the road is spraying on his canola crop? Surely carcinogenic.  Best move again, perhaps to the north.

Oh crap! The ozone layer is depleting most rapidly in northern climes, which means that I’ll be an almost sure candidate for skin cancer at some point. Or it might be the diesel exhaust from my snowmobile that will get me.

Final word? For cancer prevention, living should not be recommended.

11 Replies to “Drinking (and Everything Else) May Cause Cancer”

  1. As I always say, it’s not what you drink, eat or even smoke what kills you, is the way you live (or, actually, in our modern urban world, try to do something that resembles living) what does it. Stay away from stress (and, at least most of the time, excess) and you can give cancer and every other thing the two fingers…

  2. I like the fact that the results of the study call attention to the undeniable fact of our brief mortality on this ball of rock which is hurtling through an indifferent universe at breakneck speeds and then assume that you wish so much to be in control of your destiny that you’re going to not drink a beer to cope with that reminder that you are not immortal and that you are definitely going to die.

    To quote Mr. Hicks, “It’s just a ride.”

  3. From the album, Night and Day, 1982, Joe Jackson.
    5:26 cut of “Cancer”

    Everything gives you cancer
    Everything gives you cancer
    There’s no cure, there’s no answer
    Everything gives you cancer

    Don’t touch that dial
    Don’t try to smile
    Just take this pill
    It’s in your file

    Don’t work hard
    Don’t play hard
    Don’t plan for the graveyard
    Remember –

    Everything gives you cancer
    Everything gives you cancer
    There’s no cure, there’s no answer
    Everything gives you cancer

    Don’t work by night
    Don’t sleep by day
    You’ll feel all right
    But you will pay

    No caffeine
    No protein
    No booze or
    Remember –

  4. “There is no level of flying in an aircraft for which the risk of crashing out of the sky is null. Thus, for accident prevention, flying should not be recommended.”


    I bet Paule Latino-Martel is a riot at parties.

  5. It’s an odd locution, as if “null” is the only acceptable level of risk. Ten to one this study is followed by one or more that offer conflicting evidence. Linking cancer to single causes is notoriously difficult–especially drinking in levels just north of null.

  6. The way I see it, it’s quite simple. Eliminate from your life everything that might possibly cause cancer, heart disease and what have you — and then die of boredom!

  7. Beer has been around for thousands of years. Acccordingly, millions of people should have gotten cancer already.

    The next you know, maybe they say eating potatos will cause cancer.

  8. It is well known that the media is a device for filtering scientific findings in such a way as to divide every substance on our earth into two categories: those that cause cancer, and those that prevent it.

    At the same time it is possible, with a critical mind, to do a bit of amateur risk-assessment to put some perspective on things. I mean, you won’t get many people making this argument with cigarettes these days. I’ve surveyed many, many articles in journals my university subscribes to, in order to assess my options for reducing the chance of getting the angina and colon cancer my dad ended up with. I don’t know if it’s just alcohol research, but my god I found some vastly divergent and often contradictory findings.

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