There’s probably been more misinformation distributed over the years about alcohol than any other substance that humans consume. Even the sugar, salt, coffee, and cholesterol controversies of the past generation are dwarfed by media coverage about the pros and cons of alcohol consumption.
For people who are not addicted to the stuff, beer, wine and hard liquor are a way of life. And aside from the few who abstain for religious or health reasons, people love their drinks, social visits to the local bar and all the celebration that surrounds the substance known as alcohol. But how safe is it? Here are some of the central facts, and busted-myths, about alcohol:
Many people do not know whether they are at risk for developing alcohol addiction until it is too late. Family history is unreliable, and there are no tests for “potential alcoholism,” so virtually everyone who begins drinking is rolling the dice to some extent.
The Centers for Disease Control guidelines note that moderate drinking is usually not a problem for people who are otherwise healthy. What is a problem is the fact that almost no one knows what the CDC definition of “moderate” is. For women, “one drink per day,” and for men “two drinks per day” is the definition. A “drink” is 12 ounces of beer, 1.5 ounces of 80-proof liquor, or 8 ounces of wine. After age 65, the men revert to the “one drink per day” level as well.
The CDC points out that many studies have shown moderate alcohol consumption can have positive effects on brain health, longevity, gall stones, diabetes, and several types of heart ailments. All those benefits, however, are attainable through proper diet and exercise, without the addition of alcohol to the mix.
The bad news is more extreme, as 38 million Americans drink to excess, in many cases drinking themselves to early death through disease, accidents and overdoses. In fact, alcohol consumption leads directly to 88,000 deaths in the U.S. each year (most of those are in automobile accidents) while a full third of all violent criminal complaints involve people who have abused alcohol. Clearly, there is a major problem with excess drinking.
As for non-excess, or “moderate” drinking, new research shows that alcohol is not good for the skin because it causes rapid dehydration. And even moderate drinkers are putting the liver at risk because the organ has to work overtime to cleanse the blood after just one or two drinks.
Alcohol contains what some call “hidden calories.” While a typical can of beer has just 150 calories, the reduced inhibition caused by alcohol routinely leads people to eat junk foods they might otherwise avoid.
Because of the unique way alcohol affects thinking, even light and moderate drinkers oftentimes make very bad life decisions while under the influence of a single drink. Impaired driving is the most obvious culprit in this case, but “buzzed” people do all sorts of dumb and harmful things while beer or wine or liquor is coursing its way through the bloodstream.
Sobering statistics: About one-third of all people will become alcohol addicts sometime in their adult lives, yet only about one-quarter of those problem drinkers will ever seek help, according to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism.
For moderate drinkers who aren’t apt to become addicted, alcohol offers few benefits and many disadvantages.
November 25, 2016 at 7:53 am
modern day alcohol is so far from the original beers and ale,it doesn’t look the same.Our healthy grains are no more,and the addition of chemicals by law have corrupted alcohol to the point that it is now a poison.I agree,everything we need to live healthy can be found in alternative foods.I have watched my grandfather die from being a lifetime alcoholic ,stroke and blindness came first.I am now watching my husband getting sicker every year because of his addiction.He is not interested in getting help
November 25, 2016 at 8:01 am
modern day alcohol is so far from the original beers and ale,it doesn’t look the same.Our healthy grains are no more,and the addition of chemicals by law have corrupted alcohol to the point that it is now a poison.I agree,everything we need to live healthy can be found in alternative foods.I have watched my grandfather die from being a lifetime alcoholic ,stroke and blindness came first.I am now watching my husband getting sicker every year because of his addiction.He is not interested in getting help.I agree on point with one aspect of Peters post,most people will never give up their booze,any more than their junk food.Our species has lost the instinct to eat the proper foods for our health.I find it amazing that people will treat their vehicles better than themselves.What I mean by that is this,we dont put water in the gas tank,or gas in the oil.We learn what our vehicles need and stick to it.but we let our taste buds decide what to eat.I see moms putting chemically laden pops and cool aid in their babies bottles.most kids dont stand a chance at eating healthy with all of the chemicals now in our food.My mom raised me on junk food and I’ve been chronically ill for most of my life.It has been a long road to healing while sifting thru all of the misinformation out there
November 25, 2016 at 9:18 am
so,you people let my comments sit there while others get to post? I will be unsubscribing,I have better things to do than waste it here
Allen A. Smith
November 25, 2016 at 11:04 am
3 deciliters (about 10 ounces) of wine is a standard part of the Mediterranean diet, that is generally agreed to be exceptionally healthy.
November 25, 2016 at 6:17 pm
So why don’t we do a similar analysis about the use of sugar? which I am sure has far more far reaching adverse affects that does alcohol. Just take a glance at an average section of the population: close to 70% of them are overweight, with all the resultant problems.
November 25, 2016 at 7:02 pm
Looking forward to Cookbook & thanks for important features of alcohol
November 25, 2016 at 8:32 pm
Sounds like great reading, thanks.
November 29, 2016 at 7:25 pm
The only sure way to not become an alcoholic is to never take that first drink!