Alcohol: A Case of Denial

There is now consensus within the scientific community that the moderate consumption of alcohol is associated with better health and greater longevity than is either abstaining or drinking heavily. Increasingly, the mechanisms through which alcohol confers its benefits are being identified.

A major research study recently revealed that the consumption of alcohol is most effective in reducing the risk of myocardial infarction among men when they drink light to moderate amounts of alcohol at least three to five days per week.

This important health information was greeted by a response of denial. The National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence (NCADD) asserted that it is “dangerous to promote the notion that alcohol consumption is a healthy practice.” Perhaps this response reflects the fact that the alcohol activist group was founded by Marty Mann, the first female member of Alcoholics Anonymous.

But an essay in Time magazine groused that “we keep hearing so much about alcohol's supposed benefits” because writers and editors are often known for their drinking. The piece asserts that one can almost hear the editors chuckling “Ha! Here’s a vice that’s good for you.” And implicitly, a so-called vice to which they have succumbed

But drinking in moderation isn’t a vice. It’s a health virtue, unless contra-indicated by pregnancy, alcohol addiction, or other reasons.

An editorial in the Washington Post concluded that “public health officials probably should do what they’re already doing concerning alcohol, which is to stay silent until the research holds steady for a decade or two.”

Scientific evidence of the health benefits of moderate drinking has been published for about 100 years. Yet the Post wants us to wait a decade or two more before being convinced. Why?

It’s time for us to be persuaded by scientific evidence rather than the temperance sentiment that pervades our society.


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