One of the big problems with so-called “scientists” is that they follow the scientific method but not the scientific speak. It’s so common to find that facts state a particular case and then the scientists contradict it—because they have some problem accepting the data.
So there is the pretense of science. People are fooled into believing they are being “scientific”, when in fact they are just resorting to personal opinions, at variance with the proven facts.
As an example consider this new study from Spain, showing that alcohol reduces death by heart disease by up to 54%–and that’s from HEAVY drinking. Yet they still insist that nobody should drink and “other studies” show alcohol kills. Why shouldn’t people adopt alcohol? If their science is worth a spit, drinking saves and enhances lives, for heaven’s sake.
This fanatical onslaught against alcohol continues, despite all common sense and scientific method. Spain and France, both very heavy drinking countries, where a bottle a day per person is almost the norm, do not have higher death rates than the rest of civilization. On the contrary, you have probably heard of the “French paradox”—meaning that the French drink HUGE amounts of alcohol and yet on average do not die younger than the rest of us.
Thousands of studies have shown that alcoholic drinks have an ameliorating effect on dietary excesses and seem beneficial. Papers on resveratrol and other polyphenols in red wine are coming out at the rate of about one a month. Yet born-again critics (many of whom I suspect are recovered drunks, from their ridiculous language) still rant against drink.
Most so-called alcohol deaths are from drink driving and alcoholism: in both cases anti-social and psychotic behavior is the problem, not the alcohol. If I drink a bottle of wine and DON’T go out on the roads and kill somebody but another person does go out and kill somebody, in what possible sense can the alcohol be the real cause of the second instance?
It’s just not logical.
Roaring drunks like Oliver Reed and Judy Garland had deep-seated psychological problems. Their self-destruct pathways killed them; alcohol was just the tool. Sometimes, like Mary Tyler Moore and Larry Hagman, the person doesn’t die physically but their life comes off the tracks and they are “dead” career-wise.
Well, with all that off my chest, let me talk more about this interesting Spanish study. Dr. Larraitz Arriola, MD, a researcher at the Public Health Department of Gipuzkoa, San Sebastian, evaluated 15,630 men and 25,808 women ages 29 to 69, all free of heart disease at the beginning of the study, following them for a median of 10 years (half longer, half less). That’s 41,000 people in all: a MAJOR study.
Dr. Arriola considered a “drink” as an alcoholic beverage with 10 grams of alcohol, the U.K. standard [In the U.S., a standard drink is equal to 13.7 grams of alcohol, according to the CDC].
The study’s definition of drinking levels was not scientifically-based and just made up “off the wall”. But she chose to set it as follows:
- Light drinking was up to 5 grams a day — or about one glass of wine, one and one-half beers, or less than a half glass of hard liquor.
- Moderate drinking was 5 to 30 grams a day, or about two glasses of wine, two or three beers, or a half to one glass of hard liquor.
- High and very high levels of drinking were 30 to 90 grams a day, or about five or more glasses of wine, seven or more beers, and one to one and a half glasses or more of hard liquor.
What Dr. Arriola found was that:
- Light drinking reduced risk by 35%
- Moderate drinking reduced risk by 51%
- High and very high levels of drinking reduced risk by 54% and 50%.
Even former drinkers had a 10% risk reduction. As I keep pointing out, teetotalers don’t do so well on life expectancy. That might be counter-intuitive but it is an uncontestable fact.
One of the things that frustrates me with studies on alcohol is they rarely distinguish the types of drink. In my opinion (I’m labeling it an opinion) wine is far safer and more natural than either spirits or beers. So when all drinks are lumped together, it often masks the benefits of wine, which are quite clear when it is examined alone.
But in this study, I note that all drinks were counted and the conclusion was that beer, wine, or hard liquor all reduced the risk of heart disease in men by up to 50% or more.
The benefits showed up mainly for men. The researcher found no statistical benefits for women drinking alcohol but Dr. Arriola concluded this may be because of the relatively low number of women in the study who developed heart disease. That in turn could be because the drinks benefitted them greatly. But it cannot be stated as fact; we just don’t know on these figures.
[Source: Arriola, L. Heart, online, November 2009].