To Drink or Not to Drink? – 3

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.

Could it be that those who benefit from moderate drinking, really benefit from a personality trait that helps them be moderate in all of life? Perhaps the consistent self-regulation evident in their use of alcohol, also extends to all other aspects of life–leading to lower levels of all risk-taking behaviors.

A case-control study of 11,511 coronary heart disease patients with 6,077 controls demonstrated that men and women who experienced one or two days of binge drinking per week had a higher risk of coronary heart disease than did abstainers, even though their weekly total alcohol use was low.

Could it be the protective effect of moderate alcohol is a function of frequency rather than volume? In a 2004 National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism report on moderate drinking, Loraine Gunzerath, et al. published data demonstrating that the risks associated with 1-2 drinks per day were not equivalent to the risks associated with drinking the same weekly amount in one or two days (binge drinking).

Around the world, alcohol is frequently used to reduce stress. While this “benefit” might be argued by some, we must ask: Might the negative effects of moderate drinking be less damaging to humans than that of unresolved stress? Chronic, unresolved stress is a major risk factor for poor health.

Perhaps the best solution to the stress and anxieties of life is to remember the Biblical passage: “Live carefree before God; he is most careful with you” (I Peter 5:7 Message Bible). Truly accepting the invitation of Jesus, “Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest” (Matthew 11:28, NKJV) may be more powerful than a lifetime of moderate drinking! (Next in series.)

(This article is part of a continuing series on alcohol. View: <Previous  Next>)