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Grooming the next generation for cancer
Advances are being made on smoking cessation but as the various initiatives have gathered traction in recent years, has the Irish love affair with alcohol slipped under the radar in terms of public perception and advertising?
The National Cancer Registry of Ireland recently released some unsettling figures that show a more than four-fold rise in liver cancer incidence in the past 20 years. In the mid-1990s, the average number of liver cancer diagnoses was around 60 per year, compared to upwards of 270 per year in 2014.
This should be ‘red-flag’ stuff of the highest order for those with an interest in public health and substance abuse. But what about the role of the alcohol industry?
Yes, in all matters of self-care there must be an element of personal responsibility but as the tobacco industry has shown us, where there’s a will to make money, there’s a way to get around any potential obstacles.
Those of us of a certain vintage will remember ‘Big Tobacco’-sponsored events such as the Embassy World Snooker Championship and the Rothman’s Grand Prix snooker tournament. Formula One was also infiltrated — many of us remember racing cars with ‘Marlboro’ plastered all over them and even rugby didn’t escape (the Silk Cut Rugby League Challenge Cup, The Regal Trophy or the The Winfield Cup).
So is it really okay to have a ‘Guinness Pro 12’?
In the middle of last year, the Department of Health released a briefing document that warned of “saturation exposure” for alcohol products in sporting events. The document was compiled by Dr Ann Hope, who stated: “There is compelling evidence that alcohol marketing is having an effect on young people’s drinking.
“The area of alcohol-branded sports sponsorship illustrates the saturation exposure of alcohol product placement during sporting events.”
English and Scottish Premier League soccer, so popular with children in particular, are heavily implicated in this. Dr Hope cited the French approach, which involves a total ban on sponsorship of any kind.
Alcohol Action Ireland has been another voice in the wilderness on this matter, notably Dr Bobby Smyth and Prof Joe Barry. Dr Smyth told an Oireachtas Committee a few years ago that Ireland had become “a conveyor belt producing heavy drinkers” and that the “age of onset of drinking is now typically around 15 years”.
We have shown with tobacco cessation that we can make a difference, if these problems are tackled at Governmental level. The new figures show that policy-makers need to ‘grow a pair’ when it comes to attitudes and advertising on alcohol.
In the interests of open disclosure, I must confess that among my vices is an occasional slice of pizza.
An impromptu get-together over the Christmas meant that cooking in advance was not an option so one of the party who is more au fait with ‘ordering online’ took on the responsibility for getting the food delivered (I fear the telephone may soon go the way of the dodo).
The area of obesity prevention is a topic for another day, but something caught my eye while my friend was placing the online order — an offer of 50 per cent off the price if a large enough order was placed.
Curious, I checked the link at the top of the page, which offered more money-saving vouchers. The most prominent of these is illustrated below:
You couldn’t make it up.
Many thanks to the reader who sent me this short joke for publication. Your contributions are always most welcome.
While attending a convention, three psychiatrists take a walk during the coffee break.
“People are always coming to us with their problems,” one says, “but it feels like we don’t have anyone we can safely discuss our own issues with.”
“Since we’re all professionals,” another suggests, “why don’t we hear each other out right now?” They agreed and the first psychiatrist confesses: “I’m a compulsive shopper and deeply in debt, so I usually overbill my patients.”
The second admits, “I have a drug problem that’s out of control.”
The third psychiatrist nods and confesses: “I know it’s wrong, but no matter how hard I try, I just can’t keep a secret.”