Why more than 26,000 Canadians are going ‘dry’

This movement raises awareness and funds for an important cause

  • Alcohol consumption increases risk of cancer
  • Last year was Dry Feb’s most popular year so far
  • Over 40,000 cases of cancer can be prevented with moderation

Research shows British Columbians are drinking more than ever before. But a growing movement challenges Canadians to take back their health while helping others, and it seems to be picking up steam.

Dry February encourages participants to abstain from alcohol for the entire month while fundraising for the Canadian Cancer Society. Another big motivation is raising awareness.

“Any time is a good time to learn of the increased risk of cancer and to find ways to reduce that risk,” Charles Aruliah, advocacy manager for the Canadian Cancer Society, told Kelowna10.

“Dry Feb. is just an opportunity for Canadians to challenge themselves to do so.”

Originally starting as an Ontario area fundraiser in 2016, it grew to a national challenge the following year. The fundraising dollars reflect the growing popularity of the movement.

“Since the fundraiser started a few years ago, we raised $7 million altogether. But last year alone we raised $5.3 million,” Aruliah said.

February was chosen as a means for people to keep the momentum going from their New Year’s resolutions in January.

February has the benefit of being the shortest month of the year, ideal for anyone who may find going dry a challenge.

Participants signing up online do have the option to go ‘dry-ish’, if they choose to avoid alcohol for shorter periods like 7, 14, or 21 days, rather than the whole month.

Funds raised will go to research, programs supporting Canadians battling cancer, and advocacy efforts to shape policies to improve the lives of people living with cancer.

While anyone can choose to go dry anytime without signing up online, according to Aruliah, it can help get the word out to your peers.

“When you have that support network cheering you on it’s easier to pick up the challenge,” he said.

There’s also tips on the site to assist participants such as swapping beer for soda water at supper.

Aruliah added, participants of Dry Feb. may notice more immediate health benefits like more energy, improved sleep, noticeable weight loss, as well as saving more money.

The society’s research found two out of 10 Canadians drink every single day but only a third know of the link between alcohol and increased risk of certain cancers, like head and neck, breast, colorectal, liver, and more.

The society also learned 46 per cent of Canadians have shown greater interest in their health since the start of the pandemic.

In 2015 approximately 3,300 new cases of cancer were linked to alcohol. Aruliah said if more Canadians moderated their drinking, 44,000 new cases could be prevented by 2042.

Published 2022-02-11 by David Hanson

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