Alcohol consumption and health

Alcohol consumption and health
Alcohol and cancer
Alcohol and cardiovascular disease
Alcohol and weight
Alcoholic liver disease
Alcoholism
Effects of alcohol on the body
Fetal alcohol syndrome


The relationship between alcohol consumption and health has been the subject of formal scientific research since at least 1926, when Dr. Raymond Pearl published his book, Alcohol and Longevity, in which he reported his finding that drinking alcohol in moderation was associated with greater longevity than either abstaining or drinking heavily.[1] Since that time
  • “Data have come in from all over the world. Studies have focused on both men and women, various age groups, and people of many ethnic groups. The conclusion remains the same: those who drink moderately live longer and have less risk of developing heart disease than those who abstain from alcohol. Published papers now total in the many hundreds." [2] [3] [4][5].
  • To determine if moderate drinkers have fewer heart attacks because they might lead more healthful lifestyles than do abstainers or heavy drinkers, Harvard scientists recently reported their study of only healthy men who led healthful lifestyles. For up to 16 years the doctors monitored the health of 8,867 men who didn't smoke, were of normal weight, exercised at least 30-60 minutes per day, and ate a balanced healthful diet. Among these healthy men with healthy lifestyles, those who consumed anywhere from 1/2 to two alcoholic drinks of beer, wine or liquor per day had significantly decreased risk of heart attacks. Those who averaged slightly more (one to two drinks per day) had the lowest risk. This study strongly suggests that the beneficial effects of drinking alcohol in moderation comes from the alcohol itself rather than from differences in lifestyle [6] Other research also addresses this question.
  • Another study found that when men increased their alcohol intake from very low to moderate, they significantly reduced their risk of coronary heart disease. The study monitored the health of 18,455 males for a period of seven years. [7]
  • Drinking in moderation has also been found to help those who have suffered a heart attack survive it. [8] Alcohol helps reduce damage after heart attacks
  • Much evidence is not simply correlational or time sequence in nature. Some of the many specific ways by which alcohol leads to improved cardiovascular health are now understood, often in great detail. [9]
Such widely different types of evidence based on different methodologies largely rule out the possibility that some factor or factors other than the alcohol itself is causing the significant reductions in fatalities found among moderate drinkers around the world.

While it is widely recognized that alcoholism has negative health effects, moderate consumption, frequently defined as the consumption of 1-4 alcoholic drinks in a day (depending on the age and gender of the subjects) has been found in much research to have a positive effect on longevity[10] (Doll & Peto). See the main article Recommended maximum intake of alcoholic beverages for a list of governments' guidances on alcohol intake which, for a man, range from 140 to 280g per week.

However, some research suggests to some that the benefits of moderate alcohol consumption may not be large enough or certain enough to recommend to those who do not already drink, even if not contraindicated. There is a concern that doing so might lead to symptoms of alcoholism in those who previously did not imbibe or that those who drink heavily would interpret the advice as support for heavy drinking.[11][12] Dr. Tim Naimi and some others at the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) speak widely concerning what they consider the supposed benefits of moderate alcohol intake, pointing out that the research designs that have led to such conclusions are not generally indicative of a cause and effect.[13]

On the other hand, Dr. R. Curtis Ellison, a physician and leading medical researcher, says that adults should have a drink a day, unless contraindicated. “The bottom line is, never go more than 24 hours without a drink” says Dr. Ellison, who is chief of preventive medicine and epidemiology at Boston University School of Medicine. Dr. Ellison recommends that other doctors prescribe a drink a day to their patients to promote better health and greater longevity. [14] Similarly, well-known medical authority Dean Edell, M.D., asserts that “you would have to be living on another planet not to know that alcohol -- in moderation -- is good for your health.” [15]

Controversy

Some research suggests to some that the benefits of moderate alcohol consumption may not be large enough or certain enough to recommend to those who do not already drink, even if not contraindicated. There is a concern that doing so might lead to symptoms of alcoholism in those who previously did not imbibe or that those who drink heavily would interpret the advice as support for heavy drinking.[16][17] Dr. Tim Naimi and some others at the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) speaks widely concerning what they consider the supposed benefits of moderate alcohol intake, pointing out that the research designs that have led to such conclusions do not prove a cause and effect.[18]

On the other hand, Dr. R. Curtis Ellison, a physician and leading medical researcher, says that adults should have a drink a day, unless contraindicated. “The bottom line is, never go more than 24 hours without a drink” says Dr. Ellison, who is chief of preventive medicine and epidemiology at Boston University School of Medicine. Dr. Ellison recommends that other doctors prescribe a drink a day to their patients to promote better health and greater longevity. [19] Similarly, well-known medical authority Dean Edell, M.D., asserts that “you would have to be living on another planet not to know that alcohol -- in moderation -- is good for your health.” [20]

Physiological effects of ethanol

Alcohol appears to be hormetic.[21] Medical research demonstrates that, consumed in moderation, alcohol increases HDL (“good cholesterol”), decreases thrombosis (blood clotting), reduces fibrinogen (a blood clotter), increases fibrinolysis (clot dissolving), reduces artery spasm from stress, increases coronary blood flow and increases insulin sensitivity -- all good for heart health[22][23] (Rimm; Zhang).

Alcohol production in the body

It is inevitable that all humans always have some amount of alcohol in their bodies at all times, even if they never drink alcoholic beverages in their lives. This is because of a process called endogenous ethanol production. Many of the bacteria in the intestines use alcohol fermentation as a form of respiration. This metabolic method produces alcohol as a waste product, in the same way that metabolism results in the formation of carbon dioxide and water. Thus, human bodies always contain some quantity of alcohol produced by these benign bacteria.

Mortality

  • United Kingdom: "In 2004 there were 8,221 alcohol-related deaths in the UK, almost double the total of 4,144 in 1991."[24]
Light and moderate drinking saves more lives in England and Wales than are lost through the abuse of alcohol according to scientists at the University of London. The researchers determined that if everyone abstained from alcohol, death rates would be significantly higher. In the words of the lead author, "alcohol saves more lives than it costs." [25]

Other researchers, led by Dr. Ian White, found that, in the United Kingdom, 15,080 deaths were prevented through the use of alcohol, while 13,216 were caused by its abuse. Thus, the use of alcohol led to a net gain of 1,864 lives. [26]
  • United States: A 2001 report estimates that medium and high consumption of alcohol led to 75,754 deaths in the USA. Low consumption has some beneficial effects so a net 59,180 deaths were attributed to alcohol.[27] Research by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA) reveals that the benefits of moderate drinking outweigh the harms from abusive drinking. The NIAAA calculates that if all drinkers in the U.S. became abstainers, there would be an additional 80,000 deaths per year. Abstaining dramatically increases the risks of heart attack, ichemic stroke, and many other diseases and life-threatening conditions. The CDC calculates that abusive drinking lead to about 75,766 deaths from all causes in 2001, a number that continues to decline. Therefore, these analyses indicate that moderate alcohol consumption saves more lives than are lost as a result of alcohol abuse. [28]
    • Australia:The Cancer Council of New South Wales concludes that “If the net effect of total alcohol consumption on Australian society is considered, there is a net saving of lives due to the protective effect of low levels of consumption on cardiovascular disease.” [29]

    Overall longevity

    Studies support the finding that moderate alcohol consumption is associated with benefits in longevity because of reductions in coronary heart disease, stroke and other diseases such as Alzheimer’s disease, diabetes, duodenal ulcer, hepatitis A, Hodgkin’s lymphoma, non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, metabolic syndrome, pancreatic cancer, Parkinson's Disease and peripheral arterial disease (PAD) [30][22][31][32][33][34][35](Wang & Barker) .[36] Apparent mechanisms of these benefits include the effect of alcohol on improving blood lipid profile [37] (it raises HDL or “good” cholesterol [38] and lowers LDL or “bad” cholesterol [39]). It improves blood insulin levels and activity, [40] reduces blood pressure, [41] reduces coronary artery spasm in response to stress and increases coronary blood flow, [42] reduces platelet aggregation, [43] reduces fibrinogen (a blood clotter) [44] increases fibrinolysis (the process by which clots dissolve), [45] Frequently, such studies qualify these findings with admonitions against heavy alcohol consumption or abuse, due to the negative health effects often associated with this behavior.

    The U.S. National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA) has completed an extensive review of current scientific knowledge about the health effects of moderate alcohol consumption. It found that the lowest death rate from all causes occurs at the level of one to two drinks per day. That is, moderate drinkers have the greatest longevity.[46][47]

    Research in various countries has found the all-cause mortality rates range from 16 to 28% lower among moderate drinkers than among abstainers[48][49][50][51] (Yuan).

    The medical studies establishing this relationship are large (some include over 200,000 people), cross-cultural (have been conducted in countries around the world), and are sometimes long-term (the longest beginning in 1948 and continuing to this day).[52]

    To test the hypothesis that the results may reflect the poor health of alcoholics who now abstain, some studies have restricted the abstainers studied to lifelong teetotalers. Others have controlled for lifestyle factors, income levels, educational levels and other factors. The results have remained the same: moderate drinkers tend to live longer than abstainers or heavy drinkers.[53] Other studies contradict this view.[54]

    A 23-year prospective study of 12,000 male British physicians aged 48–78, found that overall mortality was significantly lower in the group consuming an average of 2–3 "units" (British unit = 8g) per day than in the non-alcohol-drinking group (relative risk 0.81, confidence interval 0.76-0.87, P = 0.001).[55] The authors noted that the causes of death that are already known to be augmentable by alcohol accounted for only 5% of the deaths (1% liver disease, 2% cancer of the mouth, pharynx, larynx, or oesophagus, and 2% external causes of death) and were significantly elevated only among men consuming >2 units/day.

    In a 1996 American Heart Association scientific statement, Thomas A. Pearson, MD, Ph.D noted, "A large number of observational studies have consistently demonstrated a U-shaped relation between alcohol consumption and total mortality. This relation appears to hold in men and women who are middle aged or older. The lowest mortality occurs in those who consume one or two drinks per day. In teetotalers or occasional drinkers, the rates are higher than in those consuming one or two drinks per day. In persons who consume three or more drinks per day, total mortality climbs rapidly with increasing numbers of drinks per day."

    Cancer

    Main article: Alcohol and cancer
    The U.S. Department of Health & Human Services’ National Toxicology Program listed alcohol as a known carcinogen in 2000 .[56] The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA) reports that "Although there is no evidence that alcohol itself is a carcinogen, alcohol may act as a cocarcinogen by enhancing the carcinogenic effects of other chemicals. For example, studies indicate that alcohol enhances tobacco's ability to stimulate tumor formation in rats (Garro & Lieber). In humans, the risk for mouth, tracheal, and esophageal cancer is 35 times greater for people who both smoke and drink than for people who neither smoke nor drink (Blot et al.), implying a cocarcinogenic interaction between alcohol and tobacco-related carcinogens (Garro & Lieber)."[57]

    "3.6% of all cancer cases worldwide are related to alcohol drinking, resulting in 3.5% of all cancer deaths."[58]

    The NIAAA states that "Although epidemiologic studies have found a clear association between alcohol consumption and development of certain types of cancer, study findings are often inconsistent and may vary by country and by type of cancer."[57]

    Chronic heavy abuse of alcohol increases risk of certain cancers. "Considerable evidence suggests a connection between heavy alcohol consumption and increased risk for cancer, with an estimated 2 to 4 percent of all cancer cases thought to be caused either directly or indirectly by alcohol (Rothman)" indicates the NIAAA.[57]

    Drinking alcohol, especially along with smoking, increases the risk of cancers of the mouth, esophagus, pharynx, larynx and liver, and of breast cancer, according to the National Cancer Institute. Except for breast cancer, these cancers are all rare (NIAAA). Moderate consumption does not significantly increase the risk of the most common cancers, except for breast cancer.

    The moderate consumption of alcohol increases the risk of several cancers, might decrease the risk of a few others, and is unrelated to the incidence of many forms of cancer – see Alcohol and cancer for details.

    Cardiovascular diseases

    The World Health Organization Technical Committee on Cardiovascular Disease asserted that the relationship between moderate alcohol consumption and reduced death from heart disease could no longer be doubted.[59] Consumption of red wine may be particularly favourable, since red wines contain certain polyphenol antioxidants associated with cardiovascular health.

    Pearson reviewed the evidence supporting the effect of alcohol consumption on coronary heart disease (CHD): "More than a dozen prospective studies have demonstrated a consistent, strong, dose-response relation between increasing alcohol consumption and decreasing incidence of CHD. The data are similar in men and women in a number of different geographic and ethnic groups. Consumption of one or two drinks per day is associated with a reduction in risk of approximately 30% to 50%. Studies of coronary narrowings defined by cardiac catheterization or autopsy show a reduction in atherosclerosis in persons who consume moderate amounts of alcohol. In general, the inverse association is independent of potential confounders, such as diet and cigarette smoking. Concerns that the association could be an artifact due to cessation of alcohol consumption in persons who already have CHD have largely been disproved."[60]

    Other studies cast doubt on this hypothesis.[61]

    Coronary artery disease

    • Angina Pectoris (myocardial infarction). Moderate drinking has been found to reduce the risk of angina pectoris.[62]

      Peripheral Vascular Disease

      • Peripheral Artery Disease (Peripheral Vascular Disease – PAD). "Moderate alcohol consumption appears to decrease the risk of PAD in apparently healthy men.".[63] "In this large population-based study, moderate alcohol consumption was inversely associated with peripheral arterial disease in women but not in men. Residual confounding by smoking may have influenced the results. Among nonsmokers an inverse association was found between alcohol consumption and peripheral arterial disease in both men and women."[64][65]
      • Thrombosis (formation of undesirable blood clots anywhere in the body) is lower among moderate drinkers than teetotalers. [66]
      In heart attack patients who are treated with alcohol, the tissues affected by low blood flow are healthier and stronger than those who receive no alcohol because of alcohol's positive effects on artery walls.[67] Similarly, drinking alcoholic beverages in moderation may help patients recover from coronary stenting. Healing appears to be promoted by the inflammation inhibiting effects of alcohol. [68]

      The cardiovascular effects of alcohol are not all beneficial, however; studies show that large-quantity consumption of alcohol can lead to alcoholic cardiomyopathy, commonly known as "holiday heart syndrome." Alcoholic cardiomyopathy presents in a manner clinically identical to idiopathic dilated cardiomyopathy, involving hypertrophy of the musculature of the heart that can lead to a form of cardiac arrythmia. These electrical anomales, represented on an EKG, often vary in nature, but range from nominal changes of the PR, QRS, or QT intervals to paroxsysmal episodes of ventricular tachycardia. The pathophysiology of "holiday heart syndrome" has not been firmly identified, but certain hypotheses cite an increased secretion of epinephrine and norepinephrine, increased sympathetic output, or a rise in the level of plasma free fatty acids as possible mechanisms.[69]

      To determine if moderate drinkers have fewer heart attacks because they might lead more healthful lifestyles than do abstainers or heavy drinkers, Harvard scientists recently reported their study of only healthy men who led healthful lifestyles. For up to 16 years the doctors monitored the health of 8,867 men who didn't smoke, were of normal weight, exercised at least 30-60 minutes per day, and ate a balanced healthful diet. Among these healthy men with healthy lifestyles, those who consumed anywhere from 1/2 to two alcoholic drinks of beer, wine or liquor per day had significantly decreased risk of heart attacks. Those who averaged slightly more (one to two drinks per day) had the lowest risk. This study strongly suggests that the beneficial effects of drinking alcohol in moderation comes from the alcohol itself rather than from differences in lifestyle [70] Other research also addresses this question.
      • Another study found that when men increased their alcohol intake from very low to moderate, they significantly reduced their risk of coronary heart disease. The study monitored the health of 18,455 males for a period of seven years. [71]
      • Drinking in moderation has also been found to help those who have suffered a heart attack survive it. [72] Alcohol helps reduce damage after heart attacks
      • Much evidence is not simply correlational or time sequence in nature. Some of the many specific ways by which alcohol leads to improved cardiovascular health are now understood, often in great detail. [73]
      Such widely different types of evidence based on different methodologies largely rule out the possibility that some factor or factors other than the alcohol itself is causing the significant reductions in fatalities found among moderate drinkers around the world.

      Stroke

      Compared to abstaining, drinking in moderation is associated with a reduced risk of stroke, whereas abusing alcohol is associated with an increased risk of stroke.[74]

      A study of over 22,000 male physicians aged 40-84 years old over an average of 12 years, concluded, "Light-to-moderate alcohol consumption reduces the overall risk of stroke and the risk of ischemic stroke in men. The benefit is apparent with as little as one drink per week. Greater consumption, up to one drink per day, does not increase the observed benefit."[75]

      A meta-analysis of 35 previous studies of the effect of alcohol consumption on stroke risk found that "compared with abstainers, consumption of more than 60 g of alcohol per day (i.e., over four standard drinks -- heavy drinking) was associated with an increased relative risk of total stroke, 1.64 (95% confidence interval [CI], 1.39-1.93); ischemic stroke, 1.69 (95% CI, 1.34-2.15); and hemorrhagic stroke, 2.18 (95% CI, 1.48-3.20), while consumption of less than 12 g/d was associated with a reduced relative risk of total stroke, 0.83 (95%, CI, 0.75-0.91) and ischemic stroke, 0.80 (95% CI, 0.67-0.96), and consumption of 12 to 24 g/d was associated with a reduced relative risk of ischemic stroke, 0.72 (95%, CI, 0.57-0.91). The meta-regression analysis revealed a significant nonlinear relationship between alcohol consumption and total and ischemic stroke and a linear relationship between alcohol consumption and hemorrhagic stroke."[76]

      Gastrointestinal disease

      Gastritis and bacterial contamination

      "The link between alcohol use and chronic gastritis (stomach inflammation) is clear, although progression from chronic gastritis to neoplasia is less well understood and probably involves other factors in addition to alcohol."[77][78]

      Drinking strong alcoholic beverages with a meal may offer some protection against bacterial contamination. "The antibacterial activity of red and white wine against enteropathogens may protect against bacterial diarrhoea in a similar way to bismuth salicylate. This protective effect helps explain wine's legendary reputation as a digestive aid."[79] "Limited data indicate that drinking alcoholic beverages along with eating food contaminated with Shigella or Salmonella decreases the risk and/or the severity of illness. … During an oyster-borne outbreak of hepatitis A, we studied the effect of ingestion of alcoholic beverages concomitant with consumption of contaminated oysters. … After controlling for potential confounders, we found a protective effect for beverages that have an alcohol concentration of greater than or equal to 10% (odds ratio = 0.1, 95% confidence interval = 0.02-0.9), but not for beverages with an alcohol concentration of less than 10% (odds ratio = 0.7, 95% confidence interval = 0.2-2.9)."[80]

      Pancreatitis

      Heavy alcohol consumption is a major cause of pancreatitis, in both its chronic and acute forms.

      Peptic ulcer disease

      "These results suggest a protective effect of alcohol consumption against active infection with H pylori…".[81] Another study concluded, "Adjusting for other risk factors, alcohol intake (comparing those who drink > 30 gm of alcohol per day to nondrinkers) was not associated with higher risk of duodenal ulcer (RR = 0.74; 95% CI = 0.42-1.29)."[82]

      Hematologic diseases

      Anemia

      Alcoholics may have anemia from several causes:[83]
      • Aggregated iron stores (chronic inflammation )
      • Frequency as the sole cause of anemia - 37%
      • Frequency as the contributing to anemia - 43%
      • Megaloblastic anemia (presumably due to folate deficiency as only 5% had low B12 levels)
      • Frequency as the sole cause of anemia - 1%
      • Frequency as the contributing to anemia - 34%
      • Regarding diagnosis, MCV>100 had sensitivity=66%
      • Acute blood loss
      • Frequency as the sole cause of anemia - 2%
      • Frequency as the contributing to anemia - 25%
      • Sideroblastic changes
      • Frequency as the sole cause of anemia - 0%
      • Frequency as the contributing to anemia - 23%
      • Iron deficiency anemia
      • Frequency as the sole cause of anemia - 4%
      • Frequency as the contributing to anemia - 13%
      • Regarding diagnosis, ferritin<100 had sensitivity=65%; ferritin<200 has sensitivity=80%

      Thrombocytopenia

      Alcoholics may have thrombocytopenia from direct toxic effect on megakaryocytes, or from hypersplenism.

      Hepatobiliary disease

      Alcoholic liver disease

      • Alcohol is one cause of cirrhosis and hepatitis.
      • Roughly one in four people who consume more than three drinks per day during a period of 10–15 years will experience some level of alcoholic hepatitis.

      Gallstones

      Research has found that drinking reduces the risk of developing gallstones. "Compared with alcohol abstainers, the relative risk of gallstone disease, controlling for age, sex, education, smoking, and body mass index, was 0.83 … for occasional and regular moderate drinkers (< 25 ml of ethanol per day), 0.67 … for intermediate drinkers (25-50 ml per day), and 0.58 … for heavy drinkers. This inverse association was consistent across strata of age, sex, and body mass index."[84] Frequency of drinking also appears to be a factor. "An increase in frequency of alcohol consumption also was related to decreased risk. Combining the reports of quantity and frequency of alcohol intake, a consumption pattern that reflected frequent intake (5-7 days/week) of any given amount of alcohol was associated with a decreased risk, as compared with nondrinkers. In contrast, infrequent alcohol intake (1-2 days/week) showed no significant association with risk. … Recommendations regarding the benefit of moderate quantities of alcohol for gallstone disease should be weighed against the potential health hazards of alcohol consumption."[85]

      Gallbladder disease

      Consumption of alcohol is unrelated to gallbladder disease.[86] However one study suggested that drinkers who take Vitamin C (ascorbic acid) might reduce their risk. "After adjustment for potential confounding variables, use of ascorbic acid supplements among drinkers was associated with a decreased prevalence of gallbladder disease … and cholecystectomy …. Use of ascorbic acid supplements among non-drinkers was not significantly associated with either prevalence of gallbladder disease or cholecystectomy. Further study is necessary to confirm our findings and, specifically, to examine the combined effects of ascorbic acid and alcohol on cholesterol metabolism."[87]

      Neurologic disease

      Brain development

      Consuming large amounts of alcohol over a period of time can impair normal brain development in both rats and humans. Research is lacking on the possible brain effects of light or moderate alcohol consumption among young humans.[88] "Deficits in retrieval of verbal and nonverbal information and in visuospatial functioning were evident in youths with histories of heavy drinking during early and middle adolescence."[89] "Heavy, chronic drinking appears to produce adverse neural effects that are detectable by functional magnetic resonance imaging."[90] "The data suggest that CIE [chronic-intermittent ethanol] exposure during adolescence has a lasting impact on sensitivity to ethanol-induced motor impairments. This effect might stem from a disruption of normal developmental processes."[91]

      Abstinence from chronic heavy alcohol consumption encourages new brain cell development, according to a study.[92]

      Cognition

      Research has demonstrated a positive association between moderate drinking and cognition or thinking ability. A study of 6,033 British civil servants who were followed an average of 11 years found that those who consumed at least one drink in the previous week, compared with those who did not, were significantly less likely to have poor cognitive function. The beneficial effect extended to those drinking more than 240 g per week (approximately 30 drinks). Higher levels of consumption were not investigated. [93] A three-year longitudinal study of several hundred men in the Netherlands found that low-to-moderate alcohol drinking was associated with a significantly lower risk for poor cognitive function than abstaining. [94] A large prospective study that examined the effects of alcohol consumption on men 18 years later found that non-drinkers and heavy drinkers had the poorest cognitive ability. Moderate alcohol consumption was associated with the highest cognitive performance later in life.(82) [95] A longitudinal study in France found that, among the women studied, moderate alcohol consumption was associated with higher cognitive function. Moderate drinkers were 2.5 times more likely to receive the highest cognitive ability scores than were abstainers. [96]

      Two recent studies have added to the evidence that drinking in moderation is associated with better cognitive ability. Researchers in Australia studied 7,485 people age 20 to 64. They found that moderate drinkers performed better than abstainers on all ,measures of cognitive ability. [97]

      A 2003 John Hopkins study has linked moderate alcohol use to brain shrinkage and did not find any reduced risk of stroke among moderate drinkers.[1]

      Dementia and Alzheimer’s Disease

      Research has found moderate drinking to be associated with lower risk of dementia, including Alzheimer’s disease. A study of about 6,000 people age 65 and older found that moderate drinkers had a 54% lower chance of developing dementia than did abstainers. [98] A study in the Netherlands of 7,983 people age 55 or older over a period averaging six years found that those who consumed one to three drinks per day had a significantly lower risk of dementia (including Alzheimer’s) than did non-drinkers. [99] Over one thousand persons age 65 and older were studied over a period of seven years. Researchers found, that overall, light and moderate drinkers suffered less mental decline than did teetotalers. [100] A study of 1,018 men and women age 65-79 whose mental health was monitored for an average of 23 years found that “drinking no alcohol, or too much, increases risk of cognitive impairment.” [101] In Italy researchers examined 15,807 people 65 years of age and older. Among the drinkers only 19% showed signs of mental impairment compared to 29% of the abstainers. [102] In a study of 402 people at least 75 years of age who were followed almost six years found that light to moderate drinking was significantly associated with a decreased risk of dementia and Alzheimer's disease compared with non-drinkers. [103] The results of a study of 12,480 women age 70-81 beginning in 1980 found that women who consumed alcohol moderately on a daily basis were about 20% less likely than non-drinkers to experience poor memory and decreased thinking abilities. [104] A study of 7,469 women age 65 and older found that those who consumed up to three drinks per day scored significantly better than non-drinkers on global cognitive function, including such things as concentration, memory, abstract reasoning, and language. [105] A study of over 9,000 women age 70-79 over a four-year period. After adjusting for other factors that might effect mental function, the researchers found that the women who drank in moderation performed significantly on five of seven tests. They also performed significantly better on a global score that combined all seven tests [106] A study of older women found that moderate drinkers (those who consumed up to two drinks per day) demonstrated better memory abilities than abstainers. The performance memory tests included such things as remembering a story, a route, hidden objects, future intentions and connecting random numbers and letters. In all cases, the group who drank scored better than those who did not drink. They also performed better on concentration, verbal-associative capacities and oral fluency. [107]

      In people with mild cognitive impairment, consuming up to a drink of alcohol per day reduced the development of dementia by 85% compared to teetotalers. The Italian study participants, age 65 to 84, were studied over a period of three and one-half years. [108]

      Studies have found the risks of Alzheimer's disease to be as much as 75% lower among drinkers than among teetotalers. A study of found that those who drank regularly, including those who consumed in excess of U.S. recommend levels (one drink per day for women and two for men) had a significantly lower risk of Alzheimer’s disease than did non-drinkers. [109] A French study of 2,273 subjects over a period of three years found that moderate drinkers were significantly less likely than non-drinkers to develop either dementia or Alzheimer’s disease. [110]

      A review of existing research to identify how dementia can be reduced found that that both abstaining from alcohol and abusing it are risk factors for cognitive decline and dementia. [111]

      Essential tremor

      Essential tremors can be temporarily and dramatically relieved in up to two-thirds of patients by drinking small amounts of alcohol, thus avoiding the serious side effects of the most effective and expensive medications or the dangers of surgery. (Charles P. D., et al. Classification of tremor and update on treatment. American Family Physician, 1999, 59(6), 565-72; Bain, P. G., et al. A study of hereditary essential tremor. Brain, 1994, 117(Pt 4), 805-24 ; Lou, J.S., & Jankovic J. Essential tremor: clinical correlates in 350 patients. Neurology, 1991, 41(2 Pt 1), 234-8; Singer C, et al. Gait abnormality in essential tremor. Movement Disorders, 1994, 9(2), 193-6; Wasielewski PG, et al. Pharmacologic treatment of tremor. Movement Disorders, 1998, 13(Suppl 3), 90-100; Boecker, H., et al. The effect of ethanol on alcoholic-responsive essential tremors: a positron emission tomography study. Annals of Neurology, 1996, 39, 650-658, 1996; Setting a steady course for benign essential tremor. The Johns Hopkins Medical Letter, 1999 (December), 11(10).)

      Myopathy

      Nearly half of chronic alcoholics may have myopathy.[112] Proximal muscle groups are especially affected.

      Neuropathy

      25% of alcoholics may have peripheral neuropathy, including autonomic.[113]

      Obesity

      Main article: Alcohol and weight
      Contrary to common belief, drinking alcohol does not necessarily lead to weight gain. Most research studies find no increase in body weight, some find an increase, and some find a small decrease among women who begin consuming alcohol (references for this statement are listed in Alcohol and weight). Some of these studies are very large; one involved nearly 80,000 and another included 140,000 subjects.

      A study of 14 male subjects concluded that "In free-living subjects over a 6-week period, the addition of two glasses of red wine to the evening meal does not appear to influence any measured variable which may adversely affect body weight or promote the development of obesity during this time period."[114]

      A Mayo clinic study of 8,236 men and women found that people who had one or two alcoholic drinks a day were about half as likely to be obese than teetotalers.[115]

      Other diseases

      Diabetes

      Moderate drinkers may have a lower risk of diabetes than non-drinkers. "Alcohol intake increases insulin sensitivity and may partly explain both the J-shaped relationship between the prevalence of diabetes and the amount of alcohol consumption and the decreased mortality for myocardial infarction."[116] "Compared with abstainers men who drank 30.0-49.9 g of alcohol daily had a relative risk of diabetes of 0.61."[117] "Consumption of 30 g/d of alcohol (2 drinks per day) has beneficial effects on insulin and triglyceride concentrations and insulin sensitivity in nondiabetic postmenopausal women."[118] After adjustment for age, randomized treatment assignment, smoking, physical activity, and body mass index, the relative risk estimates of diabetes for those reporting alcohol use of rarely/never were 1.00 (referent), 1 to 3 drinks per month 1.03, 1 drink per week 0.89, 2 to 4 drinks per week 0.74, 5 to 6 drinks per week 0.67, and 1 or more drinks per day 0.57.[119] "The results of this study suggested that moderate alcohol consumption may reduce the risk of type 2 diabetes. On the other hand, binge drinking and high alcohol consumption may increase the risk of type 2 diabetes in women."[120]

      Kidney stones

      Research indicates that drinking alcohol is associated with a lower risk of developing kidney stones. One study concludes, "Beer consumption was inversely associated with risk of kidney stones; each bottle of beer consumed per day was estimated to reduce risk by 40% …. Since beer seemed to be protective against kidney stones, the physiologic effects of other substances besides ethanol, especially those of hops, should also be examined."[121] "…consumption of coffee, alcohol, and vitamin C supplements were negatively associated with stones."[122] "After mutually adjusting for the intake of other beverages, the risk of stone formation decreased by the following amount for each 240-ml (8-oz) serving consumed daily: caffeinated coffee, 10%; decaffeinated coffee, 10%; tea, 14%; beer, 21%; and wine, 39%."[123] "…stone formation decreased by the following amount for each 240-mL (8-oz) serving consumed daily: 10% for caffeinated coffee, 9% for decaffeinated coffee, 8% for tea, and 59% for wine." (CI data excised from last two quotes.).[124]

      Osteoporosis

      Moderate alcohol consumption is associated with higher bone mineral density in postmenopausal women. "…alcohol consumption significantly decreased the likelihood [of osteoporosis]."[125] "Moderate alcohol intake was associated with higher BMD [bone mineral density] in postmenopausal elderly women."[126] "Social drinking is associated with higher bone mineral density in men and women [over 45]."[127]

      Rheumatoid arthritis

      Light to moderate alcohol consumption appears to reduce the risk of developing rheumatoid arthritis, according to research. [128]

      Miscarriage

      Spontaneous abortion is linked to alcohol consumption.

      Issues

      Health effect and type of alcohol consumed

      A study concluded, "Results from observational studies, where alcohol consumption can be linked directly to an individual's risk of coronary heart disease, provide strong evidence that all alcoholic drinks are linked with lower risk. Thus, a substantial portion of the benefit is from alcohol rather than other components of each type of drink."[129]

      Dr. Dean Edell writes that there are “differences of opinion about whether beer, wine, or liquor offers the quickest route to a longer life. Of ten major studies, one-third found this true for wine, one-third for beer, and one-third for liquor. Most researchers now believe that it is the alcohol in all of them that provides the magic, but they don’t rule out other components of alcoholic beverages”.[130]

      One review suggests that red wine, particularly from areas of cold climate, seems to offer increased cardio-vascular protection and speculates that the effect results from polyphenols, chemical components contained in grape skin.[131]

      Recommending alcohol consumption to "teetotalers"

      Recommendation to an abstainer to become a moderate drinker is controversial because of the potential health hazards of alcohol abuse.[132]

      "Given that there is a vast panoply of very effective and under-used cardiovascular drugs and that the beneficial effects of alcohol are small and ill-understood, all those present at the Novartis Foundation meeting concurred that global recommendations such as '1-3 drinks per day are good for you' are not only meaningless but also irresponsible."[133]

      "People who choose not to drink alcohol should not be urged to drink to gain any potential health benefit… Non-drinkers can use other strategies, such as regular exercise, giving up smoking, and a healthy diet, to gain protection against heart disease."[134]

      Comparison with health benefits of exercise and diet

      Some of the benefits of moderate drinking can be obtained from having a low-fat diet, exercising regularly (for heart health), and eliminating excess salt from the diet. On the other hand, Dr. Eric Rimm of Harvard reports that people have increases of 10 to 30 percent in HDL in a week from drinking alcohol. He says that “nothing else in the diet can have such a dramatic impact on HDL in such a short time”.[135]

      Drinking alcohol in moderation can have a greater impact on reducing heart disease than any factor other than the cessation of smoking. And both drinking in moderation and not smoking contribute to the effectiveness of other lifestyle improvements.[136]

      Moreover, a prospective study concluded in 2007 comparing the effects of moderate alcohol consumption in otherwise similar cohorts of men who were in the lowest-risk categories in a variety of health indicators, such as weight, dietary habits, exercise habits, blood pressure, and cholesterol, became the first study to show that even for such men in optimum health, those who consumed moderate doses of alcohol received significant health benefits over those who abstained from alcohol, suggesting that moderate consumption of alcohol has independent health benefits that do not substitute for and cannot be substituted by other positive lifestyle interventions.

      Moderate consumption

      Moderate consumption of alcohol is defined by the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the Dietary Guidelines for Americans as no more than two drinks for men and one drink for women per day. It is defined by the U.S. National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA) as four drinks per day, not to exceed 14 per week for a man and three per day, not to exceed 14 per week for a woman. The UK equivalent is 3-4 units per day for men and 2-3 units for women. See the main article Recommended maximum intake of alcoholic beverages for a list of governments' guidances on alcohol intake which, for a man, range from 140 to 280g per week.

      An exhaustive review of all major heart disease studies has found that "moderate consumers (1 to 2 drinks/day) were at a lower risk of coronary heart disease than nonconsumers or heavy consumers. Evaluation of total mortality in relationship to alcohol consumption reveals that a similar U-shaped relationship to longevity exists."[137] "A substantial portion of the benefit is from alcohol rather than other components of each type of drink." [138] However, studies have also shown that episodic heavy drinking increases the risk of major coronary events such as coronary heart disease and stroke, even in users whose overall volume of drinking was low.

      Other possibilities are that moderate drinkers have more healthful lifestyles (making them healthier), higher economic status (giving them greater access to better foods or better healthcare), higher educational levels (causing them to be more aware of disease symptoms), etc. However, when these and other factors are considered, the conclusion again remains the same: moderate drinkers are less likely to suffer cardiovascular disease, which is the leading cause of death in Europe and the Americas.[139] In addition, research has demonstrated specific mechanisms whereby alcohol significantly reduces cardiovascular disease [140] [141] [142] [143] [22] [145] [146] [147] [148] [149], may reduce the risk of dementia, and even indirectly facilitate memory and learning.[150] However, a study published in the British Medical Journal found that, after adjusting for other potentially confounding factors, alcohol consumption had no noticeable effect on the risk of coronary heart disease.[151] This was true for the full range of the test group, including both non-drinkers and heavy drinkers. The study's authors state that the difference may be explained by the exclusion of people who were of ill health who in other studies may have been included in the non-drinker category, as well as other variables, particularly socioeconomic background.

      According to the New England Journal Of Medicine, compared to abstainers, those who drink alcohol regularly have higher death rates from injuries, violence, suicide, poisoning, cirrhosis, certain cancers, and possibly hemorrhagic stroke.[147][153] Also according to the NEJM, for men under the age of 34 and women under the age of 45, those reporting no alcohol intake have the lowest mortality rate.[153] The British Medical Journal found that the risks of several types of cancer increase for those who consume alcohol in comparison to lifelong abstainers.[155] This was true even for moderate drinkers.

      Alcohol consumption can cause a magnesium deficiency or reduce magnesium levels, as well as reduce levels of zinc and other minerals. These deficiencies may contribute to, or explain, many resulting diseases related to the overconsumption of alcohol. Moderate or heavy consumers of alcohol may want to ensure a healthy diet containing adequate magnesium and other minerals to help reduce the risk of diseases caused by alcohol consumption.

      Heavy consumption

      Heavy consumption is detrimental to the user's health. People under the influence of alcohol sometimes find themselves in dangerous or compromising situations where they would not be had they remained sober.

      Some people are predisposed to developing a chemical dependency to alcohol, alcoholism. The results of alcoholism are considered a major health problem in many nations. The development of alcoholism does not take place in the absence of alcohol, but neither does the presence of alcohol cause it.

      Children of alcoholic parents have 4 times more chance to becoming addicted themselves.

      Alcohol is said to be a factor in about 50% of deaths in car accidents, 50% of homicides and 25% of suicides. [2]

      The neurological effects of alcohol use are often a factor in deadly motor vehicle accidents. Operating a motor vehicle or heavy machinery under the influence of alcohol is a serious crime in almost all developed nations.

      RISK OF TRAFFIC ACCIDENTS
      DOSAGE RISK
      0.6 g/l1.5 times the risk
      0.8 g/l4 times the risk
      1.5 g/l25 times the risk

      Alcohol compared to other drugs

      A 2007 paper in The Lancet attempted to classify drugs by the harm they do; it puts alcohol in fifth place behind heroin, cocaine, barbiturates, and street methadone.[156][157]

      See also

      References

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      5. ^ Rimm et al., Trevisan et al.
      6. ^ Mulkamal, K.J., et al. Alcohol consumption and risk of coronary heart disease in men with healthy lifestyles. Archives of Internal Medicine, 2006 (October), 166(19), 2145-2150
      7. ^ Sesso, H.D., et al., Seven-year changes in alcohol consumption and subsequ3nt risk of cardiovascular disease in men. Archives of Internal Medicine, 2001, 160, 2505-2612
      8. ^ Gaziano, J. et al. Potential mortality benefits for drinkers with previous heart attacks. The Lancet, 1998, 332, 1882-1885; Mulkamal, K.J. et al. Prior alcohol consumption and mortality following acute myocardial infarction. Journal of the American Medical Association, 2001, 285(15), 1965-1970
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      11. ^ BBC Alcohol benefits debunked
      12. ^ Russell, Sabin UCSF points out flaw in studies tying alcohol to heart health San Francisco Chronicle March 30, 2006
      13. ^ Dr. Tim Naimi's research
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      16. ^ BBC Alcohol benefits debunked
      17. ^ Russell, Sabin UCSF points out flaw in studies tying alcohol to heart health San Francisco Chronicle March 30, 2006
      18. ^ Dr. Tim Naimi's research
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Not found online yet
  • Trevisan, M., et al. Drinking pattern and mortality: a longitudinal study; Gaziano, J. M., et al. A prospective cohort study of moderate alcohol consumption and sudden death in the Physicians' Health Study. Abstract . The Canadian Journal of Cardiology, June, 1997, volume 13, Supplement B.

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The subject of alcohol and heart attacks is important because the major cause of death in many countries is heart disease.

Research indicates that moderate drinkers are less likely to suffer heart attacks than are abstainers or heavy drinkers[1] (Anani
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Alcohol and weight is a subject relevant to millions of people who like to drink alcoholic beverages and who also either want to maintain or to lose body weight. It is uncertain whether alcohol leads to increase in body weight or if it does not.
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MeSH D008108

Alcoholic liver disease is the major cause of liver disease in Western countries, (in Asian countries, viral hepatitis is the major cause). It arises from the excessive ingestion of alcohol.
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Alcoholism is a term with multiple and sometimes conflicting definitions. In common and historic usage, alcoholism refers to any condition that results in the continued consumption of alcoholic beverages despite the
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The effects of alcohol on the human body can take several forms.

Alcohol, specifically ethanol, is a potent central nervous system depressant, with a range of side effects.
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Fetal alcohol syndrome or FAS is a disorder of permanent birth defects that occurs in the offspring of women who drink alcohol during pregnancy. It is unknown whether amount, frequency or timing of alcohol consumption during pregnancy causes a difference in amount of damage
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alcohol is any organic compound in which a hydroxyl group (-OH) is bound to a carbon atom of an alkyl or substituted alkyl group. The general formula for a simple acyclic alcohol is CnH2n+1OH.
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Articles that relate to this include:
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In 1948, in its constitution, the World Health Organization (WHO) defined health as "a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity" [1].
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Scientific method is a body of techniques for investigating phenomena, acquiring new knowledge, or correcting and integrating previous knowledge. It is based on gathering observable, empirical and measurable evidence subject to specific principles of reasoning,[1]
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19th century - 20th century - 21st century
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1923 1924 1925 - 1926 - 1927 1928 1929

Year 1926 (MCMXXVI
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Raymond Pearl (3 June 1879 - 17 November 1940) was an American biologist, regarded as one of the founders of biogerontology. He spent most of his career at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore.
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Alcoholism is a term with multiple and sometimes conflicting definitions. In common and historic usage, alcoholism refers to any condition that results in the continued consumption of alcoholic beverages despite the
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Longevity is a term that generally refers to 'long life' or 'great duration of life'.[1] Reflections on longevity have usually gone beyond acknowledging the basic shortness of human life and have included thinking about methods to extend life.
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United Kingdom: A 'unit' is 8g or 10 millilitres of alcohol. A unit is roughly equivalent to half a pint of ordinary strength beer, lager, or cider (3–4% alcohol by volume), or a small pub measure (25 ml) of spirits (40% alcohol by volume), or a standard pub measure (50 ml)
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  • Heavy drinking may mean drinking large amounts of water or alcohol.
  • Heavy drinking may also mean drinking alcohol to the point of Drunkenness.

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  • Heavy drinking may mean drinking large amounts of water or alcohol.
  • Heavy drinking may also mean drinking alcohol to the point of Drunkenness.

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Hormesis (from Greek hormæin, meaning "to excite") is the term for generally-favorable biological responses to low exposures to toxins and other stressors. A pollutant or toxin showing hormesis thus has the opposite effect in small doses than in large doses.
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HDL may refer to one of the following:
  • Hardware description language
  • High density lipoprotein
  • HDL (NDB), call sign of a NDB at Plankstadt, Germany.

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Cholesterol is a sterol (a combination steroid and alcohol), a lipid found in the cell membranes of all tissues, and is transported in the blood plasma of all animals. Because cholesterol is synthesized by all eukaryotes, trace amounts of cholesterol are also found in membranes of
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MeSH D013927 Thrombosis is the formation of a clot or thrombus inside a blood vessel, obstructing the flow of blood through the circulatory system. Thromboembolism is a general term describing both thrombosis and its main complication which is embolisation.
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Fibrin is a protein involved in the clotting of blood. It is a fibrillar protein that is polymerised to form a "mesh" that forms a hemostatic plug or clot (in conjunction with platelets) over a wound site.
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Fibrinolysis is the process where a fibrin clot, the product of coagulation, is broken down. Its main enzyme, plasmin, cuts the fibrin mesh at various places, leading to the production of circulating fragments that are cleared by other proteinases or by the kidney and liver.
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Arteries are muscular blood vessels that carry blood away from the heart.[1] All arteries, with the exception of the pulmonary and umbilical arteries, carry oxygenated blood.

The circulatory system is extremely important for sustaining life.
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''Note: This article title may be easily confused with inulin.


Insulin is an animal hormone whose presence informs the body's cells that the animal is well fed, causing liver and muscle cells to take in glucose and store it in the form of glycogen, and
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Fermentation typically refers to the conversion of sugar to alcohol using yeast under anaerobic conditions. A more general definition of fermentation is the chemical conversion of carbohydrates into alcohols or acids.
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Cellular respiration describes the metabolic reactions and processes that take place in a cell or across the cell membrane to obtain biochemical energy from fuel molecules and the release of the cells' waste products.
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Metabolism is the complete set of chemical reactions that occur in living cells. These processes are the basis of life, allowing cells to grow and reproduce, maintain their structures, and respond to their environments. Metabolism is usually divided into two categories.
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Ethanol, also known as ethyl alcohol, drinking alcohol or grain alcohol, is a flammable, colorless, slightly toxic chemical compound, and is best known as the alcohol found in alcoholic beverages.
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