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News Release

Health Department invites you to share your thoughts about alcohol in Durham Region

WHITBY, ON July 29, 2016 - Durham Region Health Department is inviting area residents to share their thoughts about alcohol and its impact on the community by participating in a survey encouraging feedback on this important social issue.

“With increased alcohol availability throughout the province and Durham Region, and with even more planned for this fall, we want to give residents a chance to share their thoughts on this subject through our survey,” said Chris Arnott, a public health nurse with the Health Department. Residents are invited to visit durham.ca/alcohol to participate. The survey is completely anonymous and information gathered may be featured in an upcoming Health Department community report on alcohol, scheduled for completion early next year. The report will not contain the names of survey participants or any identifying information of those who choose share their stories and ideas.

Research indicates that alcohol is listed in the same cancer-causing category as tobacco, the sun’s harmful UV rays and formaldehyde. Studies also show that as little as one drink a day can increase the risk of cancer of the mouth, throat, neck, liver colon, rectum and female breast. Alcohol can also increase the risk of heart disease, stroke and type 2 diabetes, as well as contributing to mental health problems, such as depression and suicide.

“In addition to the risks to physical health, alcohol can also impact people’s lives through serious second-hand effects such as community safety, impaired driving, domestic violence, assault, Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder, and child neglect and abuse,” Ms. Arnott added.

Over the past year, alcohol has become more available within the community through the sale of beer and cider in Ontario grocery stores. This fall, wine will also be available on grocery store shelves and the number of grocery stores selling alcohol in the province will increase. In addition, the provincial government has recently announced the upcoming availability of home delivery of alcohol and some coffee chains are also starting to sell alcohol.

“More convenience and more choice may result in more consumption,” noted Ms. Arnott. Research shows that as alcohol becomes more available in a community, rates of drinking also increase. This is a concerning trend for those who are at higher risk of harms from drinking alcohol, such as youth.

Health Department research shows that one in four high school students in Durham Region reported excessive drinking. Ms. Arnott explained that “the adolescent brain is not fully developed until the mid-20s and alcohol use at an earlier age can damage areas of the brain responsible for decision-making, problem-solving and dealing with emotions.” Studies also show that youth are often the target of many alcohol advertisements, noting that the more youth are exposed to these advertisements, the younger they may start drinking.

Women also differ from men when it comes to alcohol-related harms. “Women have less water in their bodies than men and fewer enzymes to digest alcohol,” said Ms. Arnott. “This means that women will feel the effects of alcohol more quickly and longer with fewer drinks of alcohol.” The Health Department found that one in five adult women in Durham Region reported binge drinking at least once a month. Binge drinking for women is defined as four or more drinks on one occasion; for men, the threshold for binge drinking is five or more drinks on one occasion.

“It can be said that we live in a culture that normalizes and often celebrates drinking alcohol as a way of life,” said Ms. Arnott. “Everywhere we go, the message to drink alcohol is highlighted, while the messages about the risks are rarely included.”

To participate in the survey or for more information about the harms associated with alcohol consumption, visit durham.ca/alcohol or call Durham Health Connection Line at 905-666-6241 or 1-800-841-2729.

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Media inquiries:

Regional Municipality of Durham:
Glendene Collins - Health Department, 905-668-7711 ext. 2999 or glendene.collins@durham.ca

If this information is required in an accessible format, please contact the Accessibility Co-ordinator at 1-800-372-1102 extension 2009.

For more information, please contact Health Department.