No amount of alcohol is safe: the debate continues

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Is that one glass of wine bad for you? For years, many have taken comfort in the idea that moderate alcohol consumption is benign, but a recent study published in the Lancet describes the harmful effects of alcohol consumption.

Perhaps most alarming for some, the study indicated that even very small amounts of alcohol still had negative effects. The authors of the study called for more haste in the fight against the evils of demonic rum. This has led to heated debate among healthcare professionals in the comments.

The pushback started right away, with many issues found with the implications of the study.

A professional started the wave:

Prohibition, let’s go again. Regulating or taxing the supply will only lead to home brewing and distillation and more binge drinking. Haven’t we learned anything from history?

Others found the study itself hysterical and alarmist. A pharmacist wrote:

It does not seem representative enough to extrapolate this dramatic conclusion [that alcohol is the biggest health issue today]. What about clean water, adequate food supply, and access to health professionals and medical supplies wherever they are needed? I think these are … the dominant health issues.

Another doctor tried to sort the data:

Those who bother to read the newspaper can see that the increased risk of going from zero to one or even two drinks per day is smaller than negligible. The hype is laughable.

Many agreed that the increased risk of disease (0.5%) associated with very low alcohol consumption did not justify significant lifestyle changes. A registered nurse said:

I will continue to enjoy my occasional single malt whiskey. Life is meant to be savored, just like a good glass of whiskey.

One dentist went one step further and saw a shorter, waterier life as a valid choice:

The point is, some people may prefer quality over quantity of life. Policymakers don’t know what drives some drinkers to overindulge … Sometimes a numb mind is better than a sharp mind. Let people know about the risks and let them lead their own lives.

And another medical professional found all of this somewhat unconvincing:

I have no doubt that these researchers are well-meaning, but every two weeks we are warned that this or that is now considered unsafe to eat or drink, only to find out later that not only is it safe. , but it’s actually good for us.

But there were many who applauded the new information and had no fear of where it might take us. One healthcare professional found his colleagues’ objections amusing:

I laugh at all the desperate alcoholics posting here, trying to dismiss these scientific findings. Just accept that alcohol kills much faster than just living. It is a poisonous substance.

An addiction specialist also interviewed those who had problems with the new findings:

I can tell you that those of you who oppose this research are strangely similar to the patients I see every day trying to convince me why their use is not really a problem.

An ironic professional continued this thread and laughed at those who opposed the study:

I don’t like his conclusions, so I think the researchers are bad. We thought of it this way once when research produced evidence suggesting that the earth revolves around the sun.

One nurse saw a strong moral component in this issue and seemed to suggest that there was room for greater societal action:

It seems to me that the emphasis on the use of alcohol by the weak to the detriment of their lifestyle and the health of their families is wrong. Yes, people will drink it, but advertising it as a healthy choice is incorrect.

One surgeon took an international point of view: “There should be a global awareness about alcohol consumption, especially in Africa.

A primary care physician did not dispute the results but doubted they would have an effect on real-world behavior:

Our patients will never accept these results; they will drink more and more alcohol to feel better and to free themselves from the problems of life.

Another primary care physician confirmed:

At some point, science risks losing touch with real life. The best way to avoid dying is not to live. Changing your lifestyle for better health results starts with realistic goals.

An orthopedic surgeon has advised moderation in dealing with the problem with the public:

If I counsel a patient, I say there is no point, but be responsible … Millions, even billions, take a sip of alcohol a day without a problem.

The last word comes back to the voice at the bar:

I will be raising my glass (or two) of wine every night in homage to this article.

The full article is available on Medscape.

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