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Ioanna Roumeliotis & Brenda Witmer· CBC News· Posted: Jan 08, 2022 4:00 AM ET | Last Updated: January 9


Advocates of warning labels want Canadians to understand alcohol is one of top causes of preventable cancer


Alcohol can cause cancer, so why don't most Canadians know that? 24 days agoDuration 7:52 Alcohol is one of the top three causes of preventable cancer, so why aren’t Canadians being informed about the risks? Health experts say it's time to put warning labels on alcohol — something the industry has pushed back against.

It's not a secret, but it may as well be. Few Canadians know the truth, and few may want to hear it: Alcohol, any amount of alcohol, can cause cancer. There is no safe amount, and the calls to inform Canadians are growing. "Even drinking one drink a day increases your risk of some cancers — including, if you're a woman, breast cancer — but also cancers of the digestive system, the mouth, stomach," said Tim Stockwell, a senior scientist with the Canadian Institute for Substance Use Research at the University of Victoria. "The risk increases with every drink you take." Alcohol has been classified as a Group 1 carcinogen (carcinogenic to humans) for decades by the International Agency for Research on Cancer. It's right up there with tobacco and asbestos. Alcohol is also a top cause of preventable cancer after smoking and obesity. But the vast majority of Canadians have no idea of the risk. Stockwell wants to change that, and he and other health experts are advocating for cancer warning labels on alcohol containers. People need to know, he says, that though there are other genetic and lifestyle factors that contribute to developing cancer, every drink comes with a risk. "The risk from alcohol, it's a dose response. The bigger and more frequent the dose, the higher your risk." Tim Stockwell, a senior scientist with the Canadian Institute for Substance Use Research at the University of Victoria, is among the researchers and doctors pushing for cancer warning labels on alcohol. (University of Victoria) Kathy Andrews had no idea that the wine she enjoyed most nights before she got pregnant was dangerous. The Vancouver resident was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2016. "Some of the risk factors for me were that I'd been through IVF with my child and then pregnancy, as well as a stressful lifestyle and drinking, not exercising enough. So all of those things, I think, played a role," she said. When Andrews did her own research after her diagnosis, she says she was shocked to discover that moderate alcohol consumption has been linked to an approximate 30 to 50 per cent increased risk of breast cancer.

WATCH | Cancer survivor Kathy Andrews on why she's dismayed at the lack of public awareness of alcohol's link to cancer: Cancer survivor Kathy Andrews on why she's dismayed at the lack of public awareness of alcohol’s link to cancer 23 days agoDuration 0:17 Vancouver resident Kathy Andrews, who was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2016, talks about why she's dismayed that most people don’t know that alcohol can cause cancer. 0:17 Andrews is not alone. According to the Canadian Institute for Substance Use Research, only about 25 per cent of Canadian drinkers know that alcohol can cause cancer. In Canada, alcohol was linked to 7,000 new cancer cases in 2020 alone. Soaring alcohol sales since the start of the pandemic have triggered concerns of an impending global increase in related cancer cases. Experts say the risk has always been there, but is easy to ignore because drinking is so normalized and so celebrated as a form of relaxation and reward.

  • Pandemic's stress and loneliness create dangerous cocktail for alcohol abuse

  • Alcohol and cannabis sales across Canada rose by over $2.6B during the pandemic, study suggests

"COVID will end, right, and cancer will continue, and there will be more cancer because people are drinking more," said Dr. Fawaad Iqbal, a radiation oncologist at the Durham Regional Cancer Centre in Oshawa, Ont. Iqbal says even among his cancer patients, the perception persists that consuming moderate amounts of alcohol has health benefits, particularly for cardiovascular health. Iqbal says studies suggesting health benefits have largely been debunked, yet they continue to circulate, adding to the general confusion and misunderstanding. And he says that despite what those studies find, it doesn't negate the fact alcohol can cause cancer and that people should be aware of that risk.

WATCH | Radiation oncologist Dr. Fawaad Iqbal on the links between alcohol and cancer: Radiation oncologist Dr. Fawaad Iqbal on the links between alcohol and cancer 23 days agoDuration 0:13 Dr. Fawaad Iqbal, a radiation oncologist at the Durham Regional Cancer Centre in Oshawa, Ont., describes the lack of knowledge even among cancer patients that alcohol is a carcinogen. 0:13 "It's shocking. In an information era, we have warning labels on everything I can think of. I bought my kids fishing rods this summer, and their fishing rods have warning labels that say this fishing rod can cause cancer. Whereas, you know, a level-one carcinogen that is everywhere has no particular warnings on it." Iqbal has drafted a proposal to the Canadian Medical Association asking it to advocate for explicit labelling of alcoholic beverages warning of the carcinogenic risk to the consumer. He's also reached out to Ontario's liquor board, provincial and federal health authorities, as well as to the prime minister. "I don't like when people are lied to, including myself. This toxin is there for everybody to consume and nobody's warning you." As for why so many people are in the dark, Iqbal says he thinks that, "it boils down to money. Alcohol is a $1.5 trillion a year [global] industry. They'll lose money, and money wins at the end of the day." Stockwell says the experience of the Yukon is proof of that. In 2017, public health researchers and the Yukon government agreed to test cancer warning labels on all alcohol containers in the government-owned liquor store in Whitehorse. But less than a month after the cancer labels were put on, they were taken off under pressure from the alcohol industry.

  • New booze labels in Yukon warn of cancer risk from drinking

  • Booze industry brouhaha over Yukon warning labels backfired, study suggests

Stockwell was one of the label study's leaders. He says even though alcohol is a known carcinogen, industry representatives argued the cancer labels were alarmist and misleading. The territory, he says, couldn't afford a potential costly legal battle, so the cancer warning labels were pulled while other labels, including information about standard drink size and low-risk drinking guidelines, remained. "The industry's claims of defamation were completely false, completely and utterly false," Stockwell said. But, he added, "they serve the purpose of delaying, freezing things from happening, and in some ways, keeping that message out of the awareness." Labels warning of the health risks associated with alcohol are seen on bottles involved in a labelling test program in Yukon. (Canadian Institute for Substance Use Research) CBC's The National reached out to Beer Canada, Spirits Canada and Wine Growers Canada asking whether they accept the link between alcohol and cancer, and whether they believe they have a responsibility to inform consumers of that risk. All three focused their answers on the need to drink responsibly and in moderation. In a statement, Beer Canada said, "The decision whether to drink, and if so, how much, is a personal one. Responsible, moderate consumption can be part of a balanced lifestyle for most adults of legal drinking age." It added that it is common knowledge that over-consumption comes with health risks and that, "For some people, even moderate consumption may be associated with health risks." Wine Growers Canada (WGC) said it is aware of the health risks that may be associated with alcohol consumption, and it recently launched the The Right Amount initiative, "to provide Canadians with information and tools to help make informed decisions on alcohol consumption." It noted that the website includes responsible drinking guidelines, a standard drink calculator, and harm reduction recommendations for at-risk groups including pregnant women and youth. It also added that, "the right amount of alcohol for some is none."

  • Why some women are pushing back against alcohol and the wine-to-unwind culture

As for Spirits Canada, it maintains there are health benefits to drinking. In a statement, it said, "moderate consumption of alcohol has long been recognized as contributing to a healthy lifestyle and research has consistently indicated beneficial effects for cardiovascular diseases, reducing the risk of stroke and some diseases associated with aging." Spirits Canada added there are several policies in place to ensure consumers are aware of the risks of misusing alcohol, including government-controlled liquor boards, legal drinking age requirements, as well as restrictions on where alcohol can be sold and the setting of minimum prices. "Against this comprehensive background of control and management of alcohol, warning labels have not been shown to be useful in altering consumer behaviour or reducing the amount people drink." However, evidence of the effectiveness of alcohol labels is growing, including the results of the Yukon labelling study. It continues to be cited by researchers and governments around the world because, despite the alcohol industry's intervention, the study found information had an impact on people's behaviour. Stockwell says even though the cancer labels were only in place for four weeks during the study, people remembered them. Combined with the other labels that remained on alcohol containers for a total of four months, researchers found that by the end of the study alcohol sales dropped by about 7 per cent. Another key finding, says Stockwell, is that the more people knew, the angrier they got.

WATCH | Tim Stockwell on alcohol 'masquerading as something safe and glamourous': Tim Stockwell on alcohol 'masquerading as something safe and glamourous' 23 days agoDuration 0:12 Tim Stockwell, a senior scientist with the Canadian Institute for Substance Use Research at the University of Victoria, says that in a study of alcohol warning labels in Yukon, people were 'furious' when they were told about the cancer risks associated with drinking alcohol. 0:12 Dr. Erin Hobin co-led the study with Stockwell. A senior scientist at Public Health Ontario as well as a collaborating scientist with the Canadian Institute for Substance Use Research, Hobin says the study's labels were effective because they were well-designed. They were intentionally colourful and used a bold font, which helped make the message clear to consumers. Hobin says the Yukon study also found that the more aware people were about the risks related with alcohol, the more likely they were to support increases in its price. "Which generally is not a popular policy among the public or policy makers, but is a policy that is well-established for reducing alcohol harm," Hobin said. Hobin adds that Canada is a world leader in designing effective tobacco and cannabis warning labels. She says recent research indicates that labels that are well-designed, "can be an effective tool for supporting more informed and safer decisions related to alcohol, and may even start to shift consumers' perceptions of alcohol from a relatively benign substance to a substance associated with serious health risks that should be considered when drinking alcohol." A senior scientist at Public Health Ontario as well as a collaborating scientist with the Canadian Institute for Substance Use Research, Dr. Erin Hobin says Canada could apply its expertise in designing effective tobacco and cannabis warning labels to alcohol labels as well. (Jared Thomas/CBC) Several European countries are considering cancer warning labels on alcohol. Asked by CBC's, The National whether Health Canada plans to do the same, a department spokesperson says it continues to fund research into the best ways to inform Canadians of the various harms associated with alcohol use, and that updates to the current national low-risk drinking guidelines and standard drink information are coming. Those updates are expected at the end of this year. In the meantime, awareness is spreading through graphic public health campaigns around the world, including in the U.S. and Australia. Just before the pandemic, British Columbia's Fraser Health Authority also ran posters spelling out the cancer risks that come with drinking. Health professionals are urging governments at every level to act now to warn Canadians about the cancer risk as well as other alcohol-related diseases. "I think it's tragic," said Dr. Eric Yoshida, a professor of medicine at the University of British Columbia and chair of the Canadian Liver Foundation's Medical Advisory Committee. "I think it's actually horrible. I think it's unacceptable. I think the conversation should have started years ago, decades ago." Yoshida is calling for product warning labels to raise awareness and deter alcohol misuse. He says he has seen a "tidal wave" of patients in need of a transplant since 2019, when patients in B.C could qualify for a liver transplant without needing to abstain from drinking for six months. Many of his patients, Yoshida says, are young people in their 20s and 30s who had no idea their drinking could cause so much harm. "They were shocked,"' he said, to realize, "that the alcohol could actually kill them."

WATCH | Dr. Eric Yoshida on the devastating impact of alcohol and liver disease among young people: Dr. Eric Yoshida on the devastating impact of alcohol and liver disease among young people 23 days agoDuration 0:34 Dr. Eric Yoshida, a professor of medicine at the University of British Columbia and chair of the Canadian Liver Foundation’s Medical Advisory Committee, says patients - particularly younger ones - often express shock and disbelief that alcohol has caused them serious illness. 0:34 Yoshida says warning labels must be part of a broader awareness effort. "I think the government has to step up. I think leaving it to the education system, leaving it to the media, leaving it to people's families, I think it probably isn't good enough." Breast-cancer survivor Andrews agrees, adding that had she known of the cancer risks linked to drinking, she would have abstained or consumed a lot less. She's grateful that she's now recovering, but wants people to know more than she did. "It can cut their lives short and take them away from the people that love them. People are putting really dangerous stuff in their bodies, and they don't know. And it's not worth it."

Watch full episodes of The National on CBC Gem, the CBC's streaming service.


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HIGH BAR Hospitality & Event Group is Canada's first luxury mobile cannabis bar providing cannabis sommeliers, budtenders, consumption lounges, cannabis catering and other hospitality services. Creating a premier full-service experience that everyone can enjoy (from someone who's never consumed cannabis to your seasoned cannabis cannoisseur). With our experience and knowledge immersed in the event industry for over 25 years, the introduction of legal cannabis presented the perfect opportunity to create a high class event company featuring cannabis in its many wonderful forms. Our mission is simple, provide clients with cannabis experience presented in a classy and high-end fashion. We’ve partnered with some of the best names in the events and cannabis industries, so that we can provide the highest quality service for any occasion. We are committed to cannabis education, safety, and providing a responsible experience. Part of what we do includes educating the new, and find emerging technologies and cannabis cultivars to wow even the experienced cannabis consumer. All HIGH BAR staff are trained with the ultimate understanding of cannabis and its best uses and presentation, giving us the ability to customize each event.


HIGH BAR Hospitality & Event Group (located in Toronto, Ontario) will provide services only in Canada. All services are contingent upon compliance with cannabis related legislation and regulations. We do not facilitate the sales of cannabis or cannabis products.


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TIME USA: By Maia Szalavitz





Marijuana smokers performed better on tests of lung function compared to nonsmokers and cigarette smokers


Marijuana does not impair lung function—at least not in the doses inhaled by the majority of users, according to the largest and longest study ever to consider the issue, which was published today in the Journal of the American Medical Association.


Researchers working on a long-term study of risk factors for cardiovascular disease (the Coronary Artery Risk Development in Young Adults or CARDIA study) tested the lung function of 5115 young adults over the course of 20 years, starting in 1985 when they were aged 18 to 30.


They found that marijuana use was almost as common as cigarette smoking in the sample, which was designed to reflect the U.S. population. Among participants, the average marijuana user toked 2-3 times a month, while the average tobacco user smoked eight cigarettes a day. Those who smoked both tended to do so slightly more frequently than those who smoked only cigarettes or only marijuana.


The study was “well conducted” and is “essentially confirmatory of the findings from several previous studies that have examined the association between marijuana smoking and lung function,” says Dr. Donald Tashkin, professor of medicine at UCLA and a leading scientist in the area. He was not associated with the new research.

“The major strengths of this study are that it included a far larger number of subjects followed for longer than any of these previous studies,” he adds.


MORE: Teen Drug Use: Marijuana Up, Cigarettes and Alcohol Down


While tobacco smokers showed the expected drop in lung function over time, the new research found that marijuana smoke had unexpected and apparently positive effects. Low to moderate users actually showed increased lung capacity compared to nonsmokers on two tests, known as FEV1 and FVC. FEV1 is the amount of air someone breathes out in the first second after taking the deepest possible breath; FVC is the total volume of air exhaled after the deepest inhalation.


“FEV1 and FVC both actually increased with moderate and occasional use of marijuana,” says Dr. Mark Pletcher, associate professor of epidemiology and biostatistics at the University of California, San Francisco and the lead author of the study.


That was a bit of a surprise, says Pletcher, since “There are clearly adverse effects from tobacco use and marijuana smoke has a lot of the same constituents as tobacco smoke does so we thought it might have some of the same harmful effects. It’s a weird effect to see and we couldn’t make it go away,” he adds, explaining that the researchers used statistical models to look for errors or other factors that could explain the apparent benefit and did not find them.

MORE: Marijuana Slims? Why Pot Smokers Are Less Obese


The improvement wasn’t seen in the heaviest users, however. At high levels of marijuana use—for example, in those who smoked more than 20 times a month—FEV1 slipped back to levels seen in nonusers and a reduction was seen in, um, the most chronic smokers. But FVC remained high in even the longest term, heaviest users.


So why might marijuana users have greater lung capacity than nonsmokers? Consider Bill Clinton’s famous non-denial denial of his marijuana use, “I didn’t inhale” and Barack Obama’s retort that he “inhaled frequently; that was the point.” Unlike cigarette smokers, cannabis users usually draw deeply on the joint or pipe— and hold each puff in, typically for as long as physically possible.


“In some ways, marijuana smoking is really a lot like doing a pulmonary function test,” Pletcher says. This “practice” or “exercise” might expand lung capacity and account for the unusual results.


He cautions, however, that long term exposure to marijuana smoke at the most extreme doses probably does damage the lungs, although he concedes that the evidence from the study on this point is “weak.”

The authors conclude:

Marijuana may have beneficial effects on pain control, appetite, mood, and management of other chronic symptoms. Our findings suggest that occasional use of marijuana for these or other purposes may not be associated with adverse consequences on pulmonary function. It is more difficult to estimate the potential effects of regular heavy use, because this pattern of use is relatively rare in our study sample; however, our findings do suggest an accelerated decline in pulmonary function with heavy use and a resulting need for caution and moderation when marijuana use is considered.

Since the study focused on cardiovascular disease and even the oldest participants had not yet reached the highest risk ages for lung cancer, it does not provide new information on cancer risk, but it does confirm the link between cigarette smoking and long-term lung function declines.

Tashkin, however, has studied this issue extensively. He says, “The largest epidemiologic (case-control) study of the association between marijuana use and lung cancer failed to demonstrate that marijuana increases the risk of developing lung (or, for that matter, upper airway) cancer.”


He notes that a much smaller, recent study from New Zealand did claim to find a link, but only in very heavy users. He says, “The authors’ interpretation of their data can be faulted because of the small numbers of their subjects exhibiting such heavy use, which rendered their estimates of risk imprecise.”


Why smoking marijuana and smoking tobacco should have such different effects on the lungs is still a matter of dispute. Many researchers believe that it’s simply a matter of dose: most marijuana users smoke a few times a month, while most cigarette smokers light up multiple times a day.


But Tashkin argues that specific properties of marijuana also matter. He says that THC has anti-inflammatory and immune suppressing properties, which may prevent lung irritation from developing into chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), a devastating lung disorder frequently caused by tobacco smoking.


As for cancer, he says, “the THC in marijuana has well-defined anti-tumoral effects that have been shown to inhibit the growth of a variety of cancers in animal models and tissue culture systems, thus counteracting the potentially tumorigenic effects of the procarcinogens in marijuana smoke.”


Whatever the cause, it seems that those who argue that marijuana is harmful because of its smoke are going to have to find a different line of attack.

MORE: U.S. Rules That Marijuana Has No Medical Use. What Does Science Say?


Maia Szalavitz is a health writer at TIME.com. Find her on Twitter at @maiasz. You can also continue the discussion on TIME Healthland’s Facebook page and on Twitter at @TIMEHealthland.







 


MOBILE CANNABIS BARS | BUDTENDING | PRE-ROLLS | VAPE ON TAP | CANNABIS CATERING | INFUSED BEVERAGES & MORE 🌱



HIGH BAR Hospitality & Event Group is Canada's first luxury mobile cannabis bar providing cannabis sommeliers, budtenders, consumption lounges, cannabis catering and other hospitality services. Creating a premier full-service experience that everyone can enjoy (from someone who's never consumed cannabis to your seasoned cannabis cannoisseur). With our experience and knowledge immersed in the event industry for over 25 years, the introduction of legal cannabis presented the perfect opportunity to create a high class event company featuring cannabis in its many wonderful forms. Our mission is simple, provide clients with cannabis experience presented in a classy and high-end fashion. We’ve partnered with some of the best names in the events and cannabis industries, so that we can provide the highest quality service for any occasion. We are committed to cannabis education, safety, and providing a responsible experience. Part of what we do includes educating the new, and find emerging technologies and cannabis cultivars to wow even the experienced cannabis consumer. All HIGH BAR staff are trained with the ultimate understanding of cannabis and its best uses and presentation, giving us the ability to customize each event.


HIGH BAR Hospitality & Event Group (located in Toronto, Ontario) will provide services only in Canada. All services are contingent upon compliance with cannabis related legislation and regulations. We do not facilitate the sales of cannabis or cannabis products.


www.HighBarCanada.com

www.TorontoCannabisCatering.com


@highbartoronto (currently disabled by @instagram)

@highbarcanada

@highbarcannabiscatering

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EPISODE 43 AT eventpros.com


A Conversation With...Lucas Margulis, founder of High Bar Hospitality & Event Group in Canada.


When cannabis was legalized in Canada in 2018, Lucas had everything in place for his new business, High Bar Hospitality & Event Group, to launch. Within the first week of cannabis being legalized, they had their first event! High Bar's employees are "certified budtenders" and "cannabis sommeliers", and do more than just serve. First of all, they do not sell cannabis. They are a Luxury Mobile Cannabis Bar and they serve cannabis that is purchased legally by their client to their client's guests. They guide, educate, and curate an experience. Listen to this interview and get inspired by Lucas's energy and knowledge, and hear his argument for including a cannabis bar alongside a traditional bar at your events. Lucas is also the founder of Pure Entertainment and Audio/Visual.




 


MOBILE CANNABIS BARS | BUDTENDING | PRE-ROLLS | VAPE ON TAP | CANNABIS CATERING | INFUSED BEVERAGES & MORE 🌱



HIGH BAR Hospitality & Event Group is Canada's first luxury mobile cannabis bar providing cannabis sommeliers, budtenders, consumption lounges, cannabis catering and other hospitality services. Creating a premier full-service experience that everyone can enjoy (from someone who's never consumed cannabis to your seasoned cannabis cannoisseur). With our experience and knowledge immersed in the event industry for over 25 years, the introduction of legal cannabis presented the perfect opportunity to create a high class event company featuring cannabis in its many wonderful forms. Our mission is simple, provide clients with cannabis experience presented in a classy and high-end fashion. We’ve partnered with some of the best names in the events and cannabis industries, so that we can provide the highest quality service for any occasion. We are committed to cannabis education, safety, and providing a responsible experience. Part of what we do includes educating the new, and find emerging technologies and cannabis cultivars to wow even the experienced cannabis consumer. All HIGH BAR staff are trained with the ultimate understanding of cannabis and its best uses and presentation, giving us the ability to customize each event.


HIGH BAR Hospitality & Event Group (located in Toronto, Ontario) will provide services only in Canada. All services are contingent upon compliance with cannabis related legislation and regulations. We do not facilitate the sales of cannabis or cannabis products.


www.HighBarCanada.com

www.TorontoCannabisCatering.com


@highbartoronto (currently disabled by @instagram)

@highbarcanada

@torontocannabiscatering

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        LUXURY CANNABIS BAR  

HIGH bar stations are sleek, modern, ODORLESS and designed for all occasions.  With our multiple bar configurations and styles we can aCCOMMODATE EVENTS OF ALL SIZES. EVERY EVENT IS UNIQUE AND SHOULD BE CUSTOMIZED based on the clients requirements. our TEAM will work with you to determine the most appropriate cannabis bar package required for your event. 

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HIGH BAR IS OFFERING cannABIS CATERING WITH 1:1 THC/CBD oR JUST  CBD  INFUSED CUISINE, SERVICing ALL ACROSS CANADA.  AT HIGH BAR, WE'VE PARTNERED UP WITH SOME OF THE BEST EVENT CATERERS, CANNABIS MASTER CHEFS and CANNABIS SUPPLIERS across Canada TO PROVIDE YOU WITH A CANNABIS-INFUSED CATERING EXPERIENCE THAT'S THE FIRST OF ITs KIND. IT's ABSOLUTELY SAFE, LEGAL AND SERVED RESPONSIBLy AND OUR CANNABIS on-site INFUSING services CAN BE ADDED TO ANY CORPORATE OR PRIVATE EVENT, and work in any event space.

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All our knowledge begins with the senses.  When approaching the bar, guests will get to look and smell each cultivar (“strain”) option available before they can consume it. Between smelling each cultivar, cleanse your palate using our favourite Jamaican Blue Mountain coffee beans. Once you have decided on which cultivar you liked the most, a High Bar Certified Budtender or Cannabis Sommelier will educate you on the cultivar you picked just before passing you a pre-roll or vaporizer for you to enjoy.