August 7, 2013

 

To Drink or Not to Drink?

 

Growing up in a family where any kind of drinking, aside from one or two glasses on New Years Eve, someone’s birthday or another major celebration was considered to be alcoholism I naturally was very skeptical of the claims that having an alcoholic drink a day gives you health benefits. Having very little tolerance and not much desire or taste for alcohol I simply rejected those claims as many other ridiculous things you hear on TV.

 

But with all the wine that we received for my Husband’s birthday a couple of weeks ago, all the cheese in our refrigerator and hearing some great news from my Husband earlier today, I wondered, is there truth to the one alcoholic drink a day claim or is it bogus?

 

Here is what I found. Yes, it is true, but not for everyone.

 

Moderate amount of alcohol has many benefits clinically accounted for by several researches. Researchers at Harvard School of Public Health in conjunction with Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, Toronto General Hospital and a Danish researchers all concluded that drinking one or two alcoholic drinks a day can reduce the risk of heart disease by as much as 20 percent, while wine specifically reduced the occurrence by as much as 32 percent.[1]

 

All this is good, but I wanted to know why? And whether these statistics apply to everyone: men, women, young and old? And what does drinking do to other health risks or benefits? Turns out that moderate drinking increases bone density and HDL cholesterol (good cholesterol) as well as decreases C-reactive protein, high levels of which correlate with risk of heart disease.

 

However, my gut feeling was right, older people yield such benefits, generally people over 50. While younger generation, specifically women, had some significant detriments associated with drinking even the moderate amounts. Researchers found that young women drinking one or two drinks a day had a 10 percent increased risk of breast cancer and those drinking more than three drinks a day had a risk of 30 percent. Another research also showed that drinking more than 3 drinks a day can increase risk of colon and rectal cancers by 25 percent, as well as smaller increase of uterine, mouth, throat and liver cancers. While research results are inconclusive on the benefits or detriments of drinking on young men, the benefits described above are reduced when subjects drunk more than two drinks a day.[2]

 

Although I believe in moderation, for today, I think I will stick to a nice cup of tea with my pieces of apple and cheese.

 

I greatly recommend Doctor Chopra Says: Medical Facts & Myths Everyone Should Know book to anyone interested to find out which popular health claims are true and which are not.



[1] Dr. Sanjiv Chopra, Dr. Alan Lotvin, David Fisher, Doctor Chopra Says: Medical Facts & Myths Everyone Should Know (Thomas Dunne Books, 2011) pgs. 30-32.

[2] Id. at 32-34. 

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