Steady steps toward clarity: A year in review
By Lauri Beekmann,
Executive director, NordAN
December 28, 2023
In this year-end editorial, we revisit NordAN's "weekend poster" campaigns, spotlighting our efforts to illuminate the complex relationship between alcohol consumption and cancer.
Over the past year, we at NordAN have been focused on providing clear and straightforward information about the relationship between alcohol consumption and cancer through a series of "weekend poster campaigns." We carefully analysed the connection between the two to make it easy for everyone to understand. Our campaigns have intertwined facts with compassion, ensuring each message educates and empathises with our audience's diverse perspectives.
We launched with a powerful visual message: tumorous growths on alcohol bottles, a metaphor for the hidden dangers lurking in each sip, challenging the glamorised image of alcohol in our #NoGlamourInCancer campaign. This initiative wasn't just about making an impact but to get people talking about the hard truths. We know it might seem too much for some folks at first—like we're stretching the truth. But that's the starting point for an honest talk about the real risks of alcohol.
As the months progressed, we expanded the discourse to uncover the reasons behind the public's low awareness of alcohol as a Group 1 carcinogen—a status it has held for over 30 years. We delved into the societal and psychological barriers that keep this knowledge from taking root, from scepticism to industry-led confusion.
The holiday season offered a timely platform to advocate for healthier choices. Our message was clear: gift responsibly. The image of a bottle, elegantly wrapped but shadowed by the potential harm it represents, was a clear reminder of the importance of mindful gifting.
Our narrative continued to evolve, shedding light on the broader scope of alcohol's impact on health. We addressed misconceptions head-on, dispelling the "heart-healthy" myth propagated by selective industry claims. In our campaigns, we made it clear that even though people say red wine is good for you because of its antioxidants, the alcohol in it can actually cause cancer. It's like a Trojan Horse, where what seems like a gift might actually bring hidden dangers.
We presented factual truths about alcohol's multifaceted role in health, emphasising its classification as a teratogen, carcinogen, neurotoxin, and depressant. We informed our readers that alcohol's reach extends to over 200 diseases, including seven cancer types, thus contributing significantly to the global disease burden.
We pointed out that alcohol is linked to obesity, which can be a sneaky and harmful connection in 13 types of cancer, and how it can amplify the effects of other risk factors, creating a complex web of health challenges.
This year, we learned that knowing about the link between alcohol and cancer is important. It helps people understand the issue better and creates more support for evidence-based policies. Studies, including a notable Canadian research project, illustrated that individuals who became aware of the risks associated with alcohol were more inclined to support policies aimed at regulating alcohol pricing and availability. This finding emphasises the power of knowledge as a motivation for public health advocacy and policy support.
Our message has been consistent throughout the year: informed choices lead to better health outcomes. We have aimed to create a space where the dialogue on alcohol and cancer is met with kindness and support rather than stigma.
As we reflect on the year's efforts, we acknowledge that these campaigns are steady steps toward a future where informed decisions are the norm, and health policies reflect the undeniable truth about alcohol's risks.
As we reach the year's end, it's a moment to acknowledge the advancements within the research and advocacy communities. Both fields have made significant progress in better understanding and sharing information about how alcohol affects our health. It's also a time to renew our commitment to this cause. With every article, every campaign, and every shared story, we move closer to a society equipped with knowledge and empowered to act.
As we enter the new year, we carry forward the power of information and the collective determination to continue this essential work. We strive for a world where understanding prevails and our choices are based on fact, not fiction.
We at NordAN set our sights on 2024 with renewed commitment. We invite you to join us in this ongoing journey. Your support, whether through sharing our message or passing it on within your circles, is invaluable. Stay updated and engaged with our work by following us on Twitter. Together, let's continue to make a difference in the year ahead. #AlcoholAndCancer