Those who drink alcoholic beverages may want to rethink their drinking in light of the many warnings about smaller amounts of alcohol use. The alcohol industry and the media have portrayed one glass, even two glasses, of wine or beer as not only safe, but possibly healthy. They tell the public that there is only danger when the use of alcohol is excessive or abusive. Money, politics, and a need to justify one’s own drug of choice, restricts and suppresses the media coverage of the dangers when consuming light or moderate amounts of alcohol. The Government’s silence in this matter is a by-product of massive lobbying by the alcohol industry. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services tells us there is no level of drinking that is without risk, and these risks begin to rise at relatively low levels of consumption.
In May 1964, the AMA stated that it was not opposed to smoking and tobacco, and published a brochure titled: "Smoking: Facts You Should Know,” warning of some dangers from smoking, but the conclusion was, ‘smoke if you feel you should, but be moderate.’ This advice has resulted in the illnesses and deaths of untold millions of Americans. Actually, the dangers from smoking were known decades ago, but this was not an important issue until the media picked up on the deception and the public became more concerned. There was even a well-known theory that if a person insisted on smoking, then they should also have an alcoholic drink to dissolve the nicotine.
Some physicians, even when aware of the health risks from alcohol use, hesitate to tell their patients to eliminate alcohol in their diets because they may choose not to return for another appointment. Those who want to continue using wine, beer, or liquor, can easily find another doctor who will give them permission to ‘drink moderately.’
Beverage alcohol is a drug that suppresses the central nervous system, like barbiturates, sedatives, and anesthetics. Alcohol is not a stimulant, even though the person who drinks seems stimulated because the alcohol is affecting portions of the brain that control judgment. It is a depression of self-control, not a stimulant.
We are constantly being bombarded with messages that promote alcohol as not only socially acceptable but appropriate in all situations, thereby increasing both the consumption and the mistaken belief that there are no consequences. Researchers who report the positive studies of alcohol are often alcohol users who tend to give biased reports, manipulating the figures to color the outcome (as was done in the now disproved ‘French Paradox’). There are also reports in the media that show alcohol as beneficial even when the researchers of the study do not reach that conclusion. In addition, many negative studies showing the risks of alcohol are basically ignored. There are very few health professionals who carefully scrutinize the scientific or health related claims.
The recommendation of no more than one alcoholic drink a day for a woman and two for men was originally intended to encourage those who drank more to cut back, not to set this up as a norm or an encouragement to increase consumption for those who drink less or none at all. The widespread, indiscriminate promotion of alcohol’s cardioprotective association is not because of the concern for health, but to increase the sales of the alcohol industry.
The Massachusetts Medical Society (1998) says the scientific jury is out on the degree to which light and moderate amounts of alcohol may benefit the heart, despite what the headlines may claim, moderate drinkers are more likely to exercise, watch their diets, and get adequate sleep. Each of these may have an independent and beneficial impact on heart disease. The supposed health benefits of an alcoholic drink a day are substantially smaller than those offered by exercise and eating right, and a 1997 study showed that the relative effect of alcohol on disability was considerably larger than its effect on mortality.
The brain is the organ most affected by alcohol. It only takes one drink to put somep brain cells out of order, altering mood, cognition, and motor performance, and the alcohol anesthetizes the brain for long after it leaves the blood.