Alcohol Action New Zealand and the Cancer Society ran a joint one-day conference recently at Te Papa to discuss alcohol and cancer.
I was surprised by the lack of response from the alcohol industries in the media.
Their formula of intervening to spread doubt about the credentials of the researchers – and therefore the evidence – can usually be relied upon when we talk openly about the health effects of alcohol. On reflection I see that an immediate response would have initiated an unwinnable debate over the evidence.
Eventually on July 22 an opinion piece appeared in The Dominion Post from an eminent-sounding individual claiming that the ‘group of well-intentioned academics’ holding the conference were wrong and drinking alcohol does not cause cancer.
According to Samir Zakhari ‘Cancer is not an easy topic’ and ‘attributing cancer to social moderate drinking is simply incorrect and is not supported by the body of scientific literature’.
I was not named in this piece but the research he referred to was clearly mine.
The article contains errors of fact, errors of interpretation and much tried-and-true industry rhetoric.
In just one example the author cites Health Promotion Agency research showing how wrong I am.
If he had opened the report he would have discovered that I wrote it.