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Alcohol Is the New Tobacco, Says Science, So Sorry About Ruining Your Holiday Binge Plans

Ok, y’all, it’s time for a family meeting.

Are you sitting down? (I mean, probably you are, unless you use a standing desk to scroll Facebook like a damn weirdo.)

I hate to be Betty Buzzkill this holiday season, but research done by The American Society of Clinical Oncology is calling attention to the very real link between alcohol consumption and cancer. In a statement, the Journal of Clinical Oncology notes that even light drinking can raise a woman’s chance of getting breast cancer.

And if you’re a heavy drinker? Your risk of mouth, throat, and liver cancer becomes much higher than that of a non-drinker. Researchers found that 5.5% of all new cancers and 5.8% of all cancer deaths worldwide can be attributed to alcohol.

The group is even calling for a crackdown on the advertisement of alcohol products as a public health initiative to curb alcohol use (think the Joe Camel ban, but for that leathery Kenny Rogers look-alike in the Dos Equis commercial.)

Basically, alcohol is the new tobacco.

“Now, wait a minute,” I hear you saying. “What about all those articles telling me that wine is good for the heart?”

Sorry to break it to you, but those studies weren’t specific to wine. Rather, they were researching flavonoids, an antioxidant found in almost every fruit and vegetable. So maybe the booze in “mommy’s grape juice” doesn’t compensate for the known negative effects?

The ASCO also noted that alcohol consumption is increasing across all genders, races, and backgrounds (except devout Mormons, probably.) Maybe it’s that booze has lost its “taboo” reputation, but it seems to be everywhere these days. It’s flowing at barbecues and happy hours. It’s served at lunch, dinner, and brunch (which is just a clever nickname for “breakfast with mimosas” if you ask me). I’ve even been invited to a boozy, 10 am baby shower.

You read that correctly:




A powder blue, champagne-soaked bender in honor of a mom-to-be who couldn’t even drink herself. What the hell, people? Can’t we host a social event without getting sloshed these days? Is the pressure to have fun so intense that we have to display Jello shots right alongside the diaper cake?

Full disclosure: a year ago, I quit drinking altogether. But before you write me off as a “teetotalling prude,” I have to tell you, it takes a chronically sober person to notice just how prevalent America’s drinking problem is these days. Trust me. It’s out of hand. And now, according to research, we know it’s not without consequence.

So this year, try to cut back a little on the nog, will you? Skip the occasional drink. Maybe in doing so, you’ll skip the hangover, skip the embarrassing dance with your boss at the company Christmas party, and even lower your risk of getting cancer.