This Just In: Hangovers Can Cause Cancer

Suppose you were attending a conference targeting young adults with lung cancer: Young Lungs 2011. (And, yes, I am making this up. There is no such conference.) After a full day of sessions featuring presentations from oncologists, nurse navigators, disability rights experts and fellow young survivors you were looking forward to the Young Lungs Smoke ‘Em If You Got ‘Em” Reception.

You and the rest of the cancer survivors and industry professionals would spend a few hours smoking and socializing.

Smoking? At the Young Lungs Conference? Well, why the hell not? After all, about 65% of all new lung cancer diagnoses are among people who have never smoked or are former smokers. You are young; why not take your chances? Besides Young Lungs 2011 is all about the FUN side of cancer. Let the no smoking killjoys go to the meetings for stick-in-the-mud adults.

And anyways, Dr. Pepper, Dr. Scholl and their distinguished British colleague, Dr. Martens, have done a whole bunch of studies showing that booze, chocolate and you know a lot of other stuff causes cancer too. And nobody is making the guys attending the conference smoke. Besides, everything in moderation, you know.

Sounds ridiculous, right?  Well, the “OMG! Cancer Summit for Young Adults” will take April 16-17 in NYC.  This annual international oncology conference and social networking event features more than 20 advocacy, research and support features. Awesome! According to the [i2y] Facebook page, several slots remain for the free conference and free “Cancertastic Survivor Booze Cruise to Nowhere.”

Booze Cruise? For cancer patients? Awkward!

“Maybe you should rethink the message/tone of the ‘Booze Cruise,'” I wrote in a FB response to that announcement. “Last year, about 250,000 women were diagnosed with invasive and non-invasive breast cancers in the U.S., according to the American Cancer Society. The latest research suggests that 27,000 of these cancers were alcohol related.”:

I wanted this group, which talks a lot about survivorship to young adult cancer patients, to know that alcohol/cancer connection is, unfortunately, not restricted to breast cancer. So I made a second post: “In an editorial accompanying the study, cardiologist Michael S. Lauer, MD, and cardiovascular epidemiologist Paul Sorlie, PhD, of the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute noted that the study’s enormous size and strong design will strongly influence the debate about alcohol and health.
“‘From the standpoint of cancer risk, the message of this report could not be clearer,’” they wrote. ‘There is no level of alcohol consumption that can be considered safe.’”

Here is the response from [i2y] Cancer Foundation:

“There are 50 other studies that both agree and disagree with this one. The same can be said for eggs, pot, chocolate and dozens of other ‘potential cancer triggers.’ You could never drink alcohol and breathe LA smog every day. Everything in moderation and be responsible and accountable to yourself and your body.’”


Oh dear. I did not make any further FB posts, but here is the key difference, my anonymous [i2y] friend. You, the conference organizer are NOT encouraging attendees to sign up for the “Potential Cancer Triggers Cruise.” You, a group that championships survivorship issues, ARE using social media to promote the “Cancerstatic Booze Cruise.”

I also question the wisdom of your young adult advocacy group hosting an annual Bar Crawl. Never mind the inherent contradiction of your mission of “improving quality of life and providing meaningful survivorship,” the risk management scenario must be fascinating.

My anonymous i[2]y friend made a second response (which I think he/she thought the better of and deleted): “Noted. But no one is forcing anyone to drink – and young adults are tired of boring cancer conferences.”

Well, Grandma O’Brien here is knocking on the door of 46 years old, so face it, I am an old fart. But better a boring old conference than a premature funeral.

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5 thoughts on “This Just In: Hangovers Can Cause Cancer

  1. Anna says:

    Reminds me of the “Drink Pink” or “Paint the Town Pink”bar crawl – type events which I often see reported. Invariably SGK for the Cure is the lucky recipient of all that altruistic binge drinking. Such a perfect example of the mixed-up, shook-up and basically effed-up messaging going on in the cancer advocacy world. At least we’re being consistent. IN GETTING IT WRONG!

  2. nancyspoint says:

    Like I keep saying, young people deserve better.

  3. katherinembc says:

    I agree Nancy! I think most young people are pretty informed on breast cancer and breast cancer risks. Are they equally informed on HPV?

  4. Anna says:

    I saw this article the other day and immediately thought of you. It seems you can run a cancer fundraising event whose main theme is to “smoke for the cure” !

  5. katherinembc says:

    Thanks Anna! I posted to the CURE FB page, but it didn’t elicit any comments. I am amazed cigar smoking is acceptable for a cancer fundraiser. But if we have KFC pink buckets, I guess smoking isn’t that much of a stretch…..

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