In our continuing exploration of the issues surrounding the supposed benefits of moderate use of alcohol, let's look at a two more important areas.
First, what would be the outcome if alcohol were a newly discovered compound? Would the big drug companies develop and market it as a preventive for coronary heart disease?
Dr. Ira Goldberg of Columbia University in New York eloquently addressed these questions in 2003 when he wrote in the New England Journal of Medicine:
In the last couple of posts we have been exploring the issue of moderate drinking. Is it really all it is cracked up to be? Alcohol certainly takes a huge toll on society. The case for moderate drinking has a large number of studies to support its benefits, too. Are there alternative explanations? Certainly!
Last month I had the opportunity to attend the Global Health and Lifestyle Conference in Geneva, Switzerland. One of the speakers I heard was David Williams, PhD, MPH who is a Harvard University professor. He postulated several very interesting alternative explanations for alcohol's purported benefits.
Last week we looked at a summary of the impact of alcohol on society, families and individual health. The data is sobering, indeed. Why then do we hear so much about the health benefits of moderate alcohol use?
In the scientific literature there is overwhelming evidence from prospective, observational studies that individuals who drink 1-2 drinks per day have a lower rate of cardiovascular mortality than heavy drinkers and non-drinkers. More than 100 prospective studies have shown a J-shaped curve between alcohol and coronary heart disease (CHD). The lowest rates of CHD are found among those who consume two drinks of alcohol per day. Moderate alcohol consumption has also been associated with lowered risk of diabetes, dementia, and osteoporosis.
The barrage of media attention to the purported benefits of moderate alcohol consumption continues uninterrupted. The current "balanced" view of alcohol use can be summarized as follows:
Moderate canabis and ecstasy use reduce memory and attention in young adults.
The regular use of some illegal drugs may cause cognitive impairments. Two of these substances are "ecstasy" and "canabis". Recent research has focussed on attention and memory in a community-based sample of young adults derived from a large-scale epidemiological study. Subjects were sampled with varying degrees of lifetime drug use.
A dose-response relationship was found for poorer episodic memory function when ecstasy and cannabis were used. There was also a stronger tendency for attention to lapse with the higher use of these drugs.
PositiveTip: For maximum memory and alertness stay away from all illegal drugs.