In 2009, an estimated 3.5 percent of all cancer deaths in the U.S. were alcohol related, and recent studies suggest that women who drank daily increased their risk of breast cancer by 13 percent. Alcohol can also lead to mouth, pancreas and liver cancer. Now, these findings are relatively new, meaning that not many people know about them and certainly not college students.
A health communication researcher at the University of Buffalo believes that educating students about these risks will lower students’ intent to binge drink on the weekends. Honestly, I disagree completely.
First off I’m not really sure if I believe that it’s the binge drinking that directly leads to cancer, even despite the studies on the matter. I think maybe the binge drinkers in this study were more likely to engage in other behaviors that lead to cancer, such as smoking, because of their binge drinking.
Second, I don’t think that making college students aware of all these facts will do much of anything.
It’s kind of like telling a smoker not to smoke because it could lead to cancer or tooth decay, early aging, etc. They’re already smoking and probably quite addicted to it, and giving negative information like that probably won’t do anything but make them think while they’re a smoking a cigarette. This is the same kind of situation.
If a student is already what you would call a “binge drinker,” he’s probably an alcoholic. Telling an alcoholic not to drink because he could get cancer is like telling the pope not to pray. The student’s drinking is inevitable and nothing can really change that.
A positive to this, though, is that the studies’ findings may allow health educators to catch those students who don’t drink and stop them from becoming binge drinkers.