Alcohol and Health: Should the Public Know the Truth?

The U.S. federal government has published a detailed analysis of the research evidence on alcohol and health. It supports the consensus of medical researchers that the moderate consumption of alcohol is more healthful than either abstaining or abusing alcohol.

Unfortunately, many people don’t want this information known. Nor do they want the public to know about the estimate that if everyone in the U.S. abstained from alcohol, it would lead to an increase of 80,000 premature deaths from heart disease each year. Studies demonstrate that the moderate consumption of alcohol saves more lives than are lost as a result of its abuse.

This has led the Scripps Howard News Service to pose an important question:

“Should this news be kept quiet? Of course not. The American people should be treated as adults, not as ill-disciplined children certain to misuse the truth if it comes their way. The facts are not going to turn us into a nation of nonstop boozers. But they may lengthen some lives.” 1



  • 1. Scripps Howard News Service. Drinking can be good for you. Naples Daily News, July 29, 2004.


  • Britton, A., and McPherson, K. Mortality in England and Wales attributable to current alcohol consumption. Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health, 2001, 55(6), 383-388;
  • Dodson, Roger. Alcohol prevents more deaths than it causes. Independent News (UK) 5-23-04.
  • Farchi, G., et al. Alcohol and survival in the Italian rural cohorts of the Seven Countries Study. International Journal of Epidemiology, 2000, 29, 667-671.
  • Gaziano, J.M. et al., Light-to-moderate alcohol consumption and mortality in the Physicians' Health Study enrollment cohort. Journal of the American College of Cardiology, 35(1), 2000, 96-105.
  • McCallum, J., et al. The Dubbo Study of the Health of the Elderly 1988-2002: An Epidemiological Study of Hospitaol and Residential Care. Sydney, NSW, Australia: The Australian Health Policy Institute, 2003.
  • Maskarinec, G., et al. Alcohol intake, body weight, and mortality in a multiethnic prospective cohort. Epidemiology, 1998, 9(6), 654-661.