Drinking and Good Health
Moderate drinking leads to better health and longer life. Doctors have long known this. The alcohol can be beer, wine or spirits.
Doctors also know many of the ways in which moderate drinking causes better health Alcohol raises HDL or “good” cholesterol level. It lowers LDL or “bad cholesterol.” Drinking improves cholesterol particle size. It reduces platelet “clumping.” Alcohol increases fibrinolysis, reduces blood pressure, and improves blood flow. Drinking also reduces coronary artery spasm, and improves blood insulin levels.
Yet many doctors are reluctant to suggest that abstainers begin moderate drinking.. They may fear that the advice will be misinterpreted. That patients might drink too much. What if the same logic were applied to other advice? Doctors would not write prescriptions for any medication.
In his article, “To drink or not to drink: That is the question.,” Emanuel Rubin, M.D., argues that doctors should recommend that abstainers add moderate drinking to their diets. That’s because of its beneficial effects on all-cause mortality.
Dr. Rubin explains that “The strongest evidence for a beneficial effect of moderate alcohol intake is the documented reduction in all cause mortality and cardiovascular disease. Indeed, the protection against coronary artery disease is comparable to that produced by the administration of statins.”
He continues that “In this context, alcoholic beverages do not require a prescription, are far cheaper, and are certainly more enjoyable. Although a physician’s advice to a patient should always be individualized, including a consideration of a person’s genetic background, the overwhelming evidence suggests that physicians should counsel lifelong nondrinkers at about 40 to 50 years of age to relax and take a drink a day, preferably with dinner.”
Dr. Rubin believes that the drink can be beer, wine or liquor (distilled spirits).
Popular Readings on Moderate Drinking
Dasgupta, A. The Science of Drinking. How Alcohol Affects Your Body and Mind. Lanham, MD: Rowman & Littlefield, 2011.
Ford, G. The Science of Healthy Drinking. San Francisco: WAG, 2003.
Preedy, V. Beer in Health and Disease Prevention. Boston: Elsevier, 2009.
Rubin, E. To drink or not to drink. That is the question. Alco Clin Exper Res, 2014, 38(12).