Alcohol Agencies and Truth

Federal alcohol agencies should present all relevant scientific data regarding alcohol and drinking, whether or not that evidence support their own organizational agendas.

In 1974, a report on the Framingham Heart study, which was supported by the National Institutes of Health (NIH), was prepared. It presented evidence that moderate drinking led to a large reduction in the risk of death from coronary heart disease (CHD).

Upon reviewing the report, officials at NIH demanded that the authors remove from it the data demonstrating that moderate drinking reduced the risk of CHD because they insisted that public knowledge of that fact would be "socially undesirable."

National Institutes of Health

In place of publishing the scientific findings, the NIH urged preparation of an article with the "conclusion of no significant relationship of alcohol intake to the incidence of coronary heart disease," a conclusion contrary to the scientific medical evidence found!

Little has changed over the past quarter century or longer. Federal agencies continue to downplay the benefits associated with moderate drinking and continue to engage in censorship. They resist presenting an accurate balanced picture, arguing that to do so would present a "mixed message." Instead, they stress the dangers of alcohol abuse and promote reduced consumption and abstinence as the solution to alcohol problems. That's their agenda, pure and simple.

Private organizations tend to exaggerate the problems associated with alcohol abuse in order to justify their existence, increase their budgets and staffs, and drum up public support. It is in their self-interest to avoid "mixed messages" and to present simple, although inaccurate, messages.

But Federal agencies, being tax-supported, should be held to a higher standard by their employers, the tax-payers. And they should present the actual scientific evidence, whether it promotes their agenda or not. We pay for, and deserve, nothing less.

References

  • Ellison, R. C. Continuing reluctance to accept emerging scientific data on alcohol and health. AIM Digest, 2002, 11(1), 6-7.

filed under: Health