Tuesday, August 22, 2017
ALCOHOL: IS MODERATION OK? Sing of the Times., Sept. 2017 DR. Brian Bull.
My many thanks to both the author and this magazine. (John B)
We have been told for some time now that drinking in moderation is good for your health. More recently (2014) in a scientific paper with a catchy title of "TO DRINK or NOT TO DRINK", a Dr. Rubin counseled his lifelong, non-drinking readers to "relax and take a drink a day, preferably with diner." So have most doctors decided that alcohol is really going to improve your health ande enable you to live longer? Can we put alcohol alongside fruits, vegetables, vitamins and minerals as contributors to our good health and longevity? If so, then the health benefits of moderate drinking has better be pretty impressive, because the decision to start drinking alcoholic beverages carries some very measurable, and quite serious risks.
THE MOST SERIOUS RISK:
Let's begin by considering the serious problem with Moderate drinking: the real risk of becoming an IMMODERATE DRINKER, do not include the risks assumed by ALL of those who drink. Because a person who begins to drink heavily is no longer a moderate drinker, he or she is dropped from the group whose health is being studied. This results is a serious underestimation of the risks of moderate alcohol consumption. It's very important NOT to exclude from the study of moderate drinkers those who have moved on to abuse alcohol, for studies have shown that in the Caucasian population, 1 out of 12 moderate drinkers (8 Percent) will become an alcoholic.
Perhaps a simple illustration will clarify the point. Picture if you will a man holding a six-shooter in each hand. All six barrels of one gun are empty, while one of the six barrels contain a bullet. If the man pulls one trigger at random, with either his right or his left hand, he's playing a two-handed version of Russian roulette.Statistically, that's how likely it is that a moderate drinker will become an alcoholic. And every expert, including Dr. Rubin, agrees that excessive consumption of alcohol is devastating to your health.
In the Native American population the downside of light to moderate drinking is even worse. Twenty percent ( or 2 out of every 5 people, JB) Native Americans will become alcoholics! That's the same as placing two bullets in one gun and one bullet in the other!
NOTE(JB): as with so many other earthly questions, it's best to "Follow the money," for one's truth.
So why is there any question about alcohol being harmful? Because, as I noted earlier, for some time now the Popular Press has claimed that "Science Shows," that alcohol in moderation will PROTECT you from hearth disease, stroke, and other unpleasant ways of dying. In other words, there's a supposed to be a health benefit to moderate drinking, just as there a health BENEFIT to eating fruits and vegetables. (NOTE JB: this should be featured in Ripley's Believe it or not!]
What is the quality of the available evidence that supports this conclusion? Does science really demonstrate this?
IS THE EVIDENCE RELIABLE?
I try to keep informed about alcohol and its effect on health, both the scientific evidence and the views reported in the popular press. First, let me confirm that the popular press is reporting on a truly impressive amount of evidence. There are--- if you can believe it--- more than 2,500 scientific papers on the topic of alcohol in moderation and whether or not it correlates with living longer. That's probably and equal number of articles in magazines and newspapers, although counting them is much more difficult. Of the last 87 research reports that I read, 84 concluded that moderate drinkers are significantly less likely to die from stroke or heart disease, and two studies were inconclusive.
Before continuing, it will be helpful to note that although the amount of evidence is huge, it is of poor quality.----because it cannot be otherwise. Virtually all of these papers are based upon studies in which a large number of relatively healthy people are divided into two groups: light to moderate drinkers and ex drinkers ( those who have quit drinking entirely) . These two groups are them studied for ten or 15 years, or even 20 years,later to see what percentage of each group is still alive. How many of the light-to moderate drinkers are still happily living their lives versus how many of the ex-drinkers, those who have quit before the study began, are still living, versus the ex-drinkers who have died. Thus if a higher percentage of the ex-drinkers have died, then it's clear that moderate drinkers and living loner are correlated, they go together.
This kind of research project is known as Prospective, Observational Study. The data that it produces is considered by researchers to be of a poor scientific quality, because there are so many other influencing factors, that change the outcome, and are uncontrollable!
Look at all this this way: Better quality date is almost impossible to come by as both drinkers and ex-drinkers are self-selected. Due to the fact, for legal reasons a researcher cannot tell one research subject to start drinking, or to stop drinking, and stay that way for the next 20 years! As a result, many other factor could influence how long that a person lives.
In a more ideal set of circumstances, neither the investigators nor the participants would know who is getting alcohol and who is not. This is the so-called "Double Blind" setup.. So even though the available data set is huge, the quality is poor--- and there isn't much that can be done about it. This makes the conclusions drawn from this date quite uncertain.-- and that includes the drawn conclusion that drinking alcohol in moderation, will on the average, help you live longer.
Throughout the years, many have asked about the relationship between drinking and living longer has remained.: "How is it possible to drink a toxin ( a mild toxin but still a toxin, something else must be going on--- but what is it?
A CASE STUDY:
A very recent study conducted by researchers in New Zealand, provides a plausible answer. It's bee known for at least ten years, that moderate drinkers are both better educated and healthier than nondrinkers, and many researchers have suspected that this fact was contaminating the measurements of longevity. People who are richer and better educated are also healthier, and healthier people live longer.A fact no researcher disputes.
The New Zealand doctors investigated this relationship carefully. They developed a very detailed questionnaire that took into account not only education level and income but also how much disposable income each participant had left over after paying for life's necessities. From this they computed a quite sophisticated standard-of -living index that measured three three things for each of the nearly 3,000 New Zealanders they studied: (1) how much alcohol he or she drank (2) his or her, state of health and (3) the standard-of-living index that just mentioned.
The results? The the better of in health and wealth, fared much better, that those who drank excessively and those in poor health and poor in wealth did far less better. Thus moderation, health and wealth, fared the best!
NOTE(JB) How can anyone with a driver's license be surprised at this revelation?
MODERATION VERSES ABSTINENCE:
Let's examine what we DO KNOW about alcohol: Whenever the cells or tissues of our bodies are exposed to even low concentrations of alcohol, the effects are, almost without exceptions, harmful. We also know that 8 out of every 100 light-to moderate drinkers will become alcoholics. Thus taking that first drink with the intention of drinking only moderately is like playing Russian Roulette. This is true with the two-gun example from before. This is true because none can know from the first drink, that they will become one of the 8 people, who will become a victim of alcoholism.
This then leaves any thinking person, with two important questions: Those who do not yet consume alcohol, (1) what possible health benefits can you gain by beginning to drink in moderation? (2) What possible gain in your financial situation, can you claim by the consumption of alcohol?
NOTE(JB) Many have lifted up the consumption of wine, and yes wine does contain compounds that are good for health, but they also comes with the toxin of alcohol, so drink grape juice instead, and get all the health benefits of the grapes, without the added toxins! As the father of an alcoholic son, I well know of the pain, caused for the sake of FUN? How many answers to life are found within the bottle or can of jug? NONE!
Thanking Y O U for your time!