Tis the Season

Drinking Alcohol Raises Cancer Risk

Alcohol is a “definitive” risk factor for cancer, according to a statement released this month by the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO). 

According to ASCO, minimizing excessive exposure of alcohol has important implications for cancer prevention. In its statement, ASCO noted that alcohol consumption is causally associated with oropharyngeal (throat) and laryngeal (voicebox) cancer, esophageal cancer, liver cancer, breast cancer, and colon cancer. However, alcohol may also be a risk factor for other cancers, including pancreatic and stomach cancers.

Researchers looked at several studies that found a strong correlation between alcohol and cancer.  They concluded that 3.5% of all cancer-related deaths were due to alcohol consumption.  They further concluded that in 2012, 5.5% of new cancer occurrences and 5.8% of all cancer deaths worldwide were attributable to alcohol consumption.

“The importance of alcohol drinking as a contributing factor to the overall cancer burden is often underappreciated,” the organization said in its statement. “Associations between alcohol drinking and cancer risk have been observed consistently regardless of the specific type of alcoholic beverages.”

Another recent study shows that teens aged 14-17 are less likely to drink if they know about the link between alcohol and cancer. Unfortunately, most aren’t actually aware of the connection. To help create healthier, safter communities, Texans Standing Tall believes its especially important to share this new research so young people gain a better understanding of the consequences of alcohol consumption.

Tis the Season

“Fraternities must change.”

The national fraternity Sigma Phi Epsilon took the bold initiative this month of announcing a ban on alcohol and other substances at all of its 215 chapters.

“Sigma Phi Epsilon and our peers have unfortunately earned a reputation for being organizations that promote alcohol consumption, misogyny and violence,” CEO Brian Warren said. “For SigEp, there can be no more discussion about maintaining that status quo. Fraternities must change.”

According to the Institute of Alcohol Studies, alcohol use is the leading cause of death, disease, and disability worldwide for people aged 15-49. This is a serious public health issue that deserves our attention.

Over the last few weeks, many universities have taken steps to combat the dangerous, and sometimes deadly, alcohol-related behaviors associated with Greek life.  The most recent—and closest to home—is the suspension of all Greek activity at Texas State University after the death of a 20-year-old pledge to a fraternity.

Texans Standing Tall is encouraged by the movement within the Greek community to work to end the normalization of alcohol for teenagers and young college students. Rather than supporting a narrative that claims alcohol use is “just a part of college life,” it’s important to remind students that college is a time for them to learn, grow, and develop skills for creating a bright and healthy future – that is the college experience we want them to strive for.

Tis the Season

YLC Member of the Month: Andrea Marquez

When Texans Standing Tall brags about how wonderful our Youth Leadership Council members are, it’s always genuine!

Andrea, 16

To kick off 2017, we are recognizing Andrea Marquez as January’s YLC member of the month. Andrea was selected out of hundreds of applicants across the country to join Community Anti-Drug Coalitions of America’s (CADCA) National Youth Leadership Initiative (NYLI). She is currently in the Train the Trainer program, a program that prepares the next generation of leaders to empower other young people to take action around drug use prevention.

“When I went to the Mid-Year Training Conference, I became aware of the problems communities throughout the United States face, and I realized I wanted to do something about it. I saw the impact youth had in their own communities and I was compelled to have the same kind of impact. I noticed how dedicated the NYLI members were and I decided to apply,” Andrea said.

The Train the Trainer program consists of five phases. Andrea completed the second phase of the training on January 16, which required her to travel to Arlington, Virginia. In phases three, four and five, she will go to the CADCA National Leadership Forum and Mid-Year Training as a “trainer in training” where a trainer will guide her through the conferences, The fourth phase will be participating in conference and video calls, and in the fifth phase she will graduate. Once she graduates, she will officially be a CADCA NYLI  Trainer.

“I hope to gain more knowledge and awareness about drug-use in different communities throughout the United States. I also hope to obtain more information about the effects drugs have on communities,” Andrea said.

Andrea attended CADCA’s Mid-Year Training in July 2016 as part of Texans Standing Tall’s Youth Leadership Council. After seeing the NYLI members in action, Andrea was inspired to expand her statewide leadership role to a national one by getting involved in the program.

“I met many members of the NYLI and I saw how passionate they were about the things they were doing. I realized that I was passionate about these issues too,” she said.

Andrea hopes to use the leadership skills she develops to make an impact in the lives of the less privileged in this world. She recognizes how discrimination and a lack of care can affect the distribution of alcohol and the level of damage it does to communities.

“I hope to become a voice for those without one, and I aspire to end the inequality so many people face. I want to become an advocate and stand up for the little guy, the minority. Joining the National Youth Leadership Initiative will help me better understand why drug-abuse is a problem throughout the nation, and I hope that this knowledge will help me reach my goals,” she said.

 

 

 

Tis the Season

Keurig and Anheuser-Busch InBev Team Up For New Alcohol Product

Keurig and Anheuser-Busch InBev announced in early January that they were teaming up to create an appliance that can dispense beer, spirits, mixers, and cocktails in the home.

The companies are still researching how the product will work, but this premature announcement, without so much as a prototype, is troubling for anyone concerned with preventing youth from using alcohol.

Alcohol remains the most used substance by Texas youth. Texans Standing Tall, along with our partners, have taken to the front lines to end the normalization of alcohol for teenagers and young college students. Products like the one Keurig/Anheuser-Busch have planned and SodaStream’s in-home beer brewer (sold in European markets with plans to spread to others) make it easier for youth to access alcohol by having alcoholic beverages more readily available in the home.

These creations add to a growing list of challenges parents and prevention specialists face while working so hard to keep our communities safe. The alcohol industry’s innovative ways to appeal to youth are why Texans Standing Tall focuses on reversing the normalization of alcohol with evidence-based policies like social host ordinances. Since most youth get their alcohol from social settings, limiting youth access at parties and other social events can both reduce youth alcohol consumption and decrease the negative consequences that occur as a result. This includes things like unplanned sexual activity, sexual assault, drinking and driving, property damage, binge drinking, violence/fights, and combination drug use.

“According to the Institute of Alcohol Studies, alcohol use is the leading cause of death, disease, and disability worldwide for people aged 15-49.”

A press release on Anheuser-Busch’s website says that the North American market will be the company’s primary focus for the product. Of course, this isn’t the first time Anheuser-Bush InBev has targeted the United States with gimmicks. Remember when we reported in mid-2016 about their exploitation of American imagery and sentiment to promote their product when they temporarily renamed their beer? According to the Institute of Alcohol Studies, alcohol use is the leading cause of death, disease, and disability worldwide for people aged 15-49. This is a public health pandemic and deserves serious attention, not more gimmicks and novelty products.

The company did not specify a product name or a timeline for when it will hit a shelf near you, but Texans Standing Tall will be keeping an eye on its availability to make sure our fellow community lifeguards are prepared for addressing new threats to our youth and social access challenges. If you are concerned about underage alcohol use in your community, contact Brian Lemons or Libby Banks for more information about how a social host ordinance works and controlled party dispersal trainings.

Tis the Season

January is Nation Birth Defects Prevention Month

January is National Birth Defects Prevention Month. While there are many defects that are caused by genetics and other uncontrolled variables, Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders (FASDs) are 100 percent preventable.

FASD is an umbrella term used to describe birth defects that occur when alcohol is consumed during pregnancy, resulting in a range of physical and mental birth defects. The Texas Office for Prevention of Developmental Disabilities estimates that 3,800 babies are born with some form of FASD each year.

Fetal Alcohol Syndrome (FAS) is the least common but most severe of the FASDs. However, research shows that FAS costs the US $3.6 billion dollars every year. The average cost of care for an individual is estimated around $2 million per year, but can reach as high as $4 million per year for more severe cases.

Modern research confirms what humans have suspected for centuries: alcohol has negative effects on unborn children. Greek philosopher Aristotle observed that children of drunken women were “morose and languid.” In the 1700s and 1800s, two different British surveys examined the effects of alcohol in correlation with mothers who consumed alcohol and found alcohol consumption during pregnancy affected child development. FAS was first described in the modern medical era in France in 1968, then again in the United States in 1973.

What you should know:

  1. There is no cure for FASD.
  2. The central nervous system and brain are developing throughout the entirety of the pregnancy. Any kind of alcohol intake at any time during the pregnancy can result in “hidden” birth defects.
  3. It is possible to accommodate a child born with FASD, but the effects cannot be changed.
  4. “Secondary Disabilities” like alcohol and drug abuse, mental health, school disruption, trouble with the law, and problems with employment can emerge because of FASD.
  5. FASD is 100 percent preventable.

Girls now outpace boys in alcohol consumption. Misinformation about the health risks associated with pairing alcohol with pregnancy continues to flood social media. These ever-evolving trends around alcohol use, along with budget cuts to prevention, and limited to access to healthcare are why prevention specialists must continue working to educate about the risks associated with alcohol use; the health and safety of our youth, present and future, are counting on it. There is no safe amount of any kind of alcohol to drink during pregnancy.

This year, Texans Standing Tall’s Statewide Summit will explore the effects of FASD with a presentation from national speaker, Nora Boesem. Boesem and her husband have fostered over 100 children living with FASD for the state of South Dakota and the Oglala Lakota Sioux Tribe. She is the founder of Roots to Wings and has given a TedX talk on FASD.