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Moderate Drinking is Good for Health – A Hoax –

Dr Rajinder Singh*

During the last two decades, some medical researchers in the West have claimed that moderate drinking is beneficial for health. According to them, incidence of heart attacks is lower in those who consume one or two small drinks daily, as compared to those who are teetotallers. Some other reports claim similar benefits against high blood pressure, strokes, cancers of certain organs and a number of other diseases. These findings are being used by alcohol-lovers as a pretext to justify their drinking behaviour. Liquor companies have been publicizing these in a big way as a strategy to promote their sales.

Lately, some eminent scientists, who are authorities in their respective fields of Preventive Medicine, Cardiology and Psychiatry, have struck a note of caution against this over-optimism. They have stated emphatically that these claims are not based on rigorous scientific research and accurate data. According to them, alcohol confers no health benefit, and that the ‘two drinks a day’ theory is a hoax. The learned views of some of them are given below:

“In recent years, some medical reports have claimed that one or two glasses of red wine every day may reduce the risk of a heart attack for an individual. Some other reports have also claimed similar benefits for other types of drinks. It is amazing how quickly these reports are being used as an argument to justify drinking by those who do it...

Dr. Hans Embald, Director of WHO’s Programme on Substance Abuse, has emphatically stated that such claims of health benefits of alcohol are not based on rigorous scientific research, and are to a large extent inspired by commercial interests.

According to Dr. Hans Embald there is no minimum threshold below which alcohol can be consumed without any risk ... .”

(Dr. N.N. Wig, Former Professor of Psychiatry at PGI, Chandigarh, ‘Sensible Drinking: Plain Facts’, The Tribune, Chandigarh, November 23, 1994).

“A few tipples everyday will guard against heart attacks, high blood pressure, strokes, various cancers and other ills, say enthusiasts-pointing to several studies that have supported the health benefits of booze. It’s a perfect excuse to uncork another bottle of burgundy, they say. But now an international team of scientific kill joys (Scientists at Duke University, North Carolina, and the Institute of Preventive Medicine, Copenhagen) have discovered that this reassuring notion may be based on incorrect data.

There is nothing that directly confers any health benefit in a glass or two of wine.” (Robin Mackie, ‘Now they say wine isn’t good for you’, The Guardian, reproduced in The Tribune, Chandigarh, July 29, 2002.)

“For heart patients and potential heart patients it is time for “no cheers.” Contrary to the popular perception that “two small drinks a day” are fine for your heart, eminent cardiologist and PGI Director (Head of the Cardiology Department), Professor K.K. Talwar, today said there was no conclusive evidence of “beneficial” effects of alcohol on the human heart.

The two-drinks theory is a hoax, and may be part of the liquor companies’ strategy to push up their sales, Professor Talwar said in a talk on healthy heart during the course of a medical camp organized by the Chandigarh Press Club in association with Gianwati - O.P. Jain Memorial Trust, Charkhi Dadri, here today. Heart patients should at best avoid liquor.”

For a Healthy Heart:
I. Have a balanced diet; avoid fast food.
2. Do regular exercise; walking is good.
3. No self-medication or overuse of drugs.
4. Avoid alcohol and smoking.

(“2-drinks-a-day theory a hoax: PGI Chief”, Tribune News Service, The Tribune, Chandigarh, December 22, 2007)

It is common knowledge that, even though moderate drinkers may not exhibit any overt alcohol-induced ailment, but with passage of time, they tend to become pot-bellied and overweight. This is because alcohol is rich in calories. But these are ‘empty calories’, as alcohol is completely devoid of protective nutrients like proteins and vitamins, unlike many of the natural food sources of energy which, in addition, contain these nutrients in fair amounts.

Another fact, which must not be lost sight of, is that at least one out of every five social drinkers, even if he starts with one or two drinks a day, progressively loses control over his drinking behaviour. His daily intake goes on increasing, and he ends up miserably as a compulsive drinker (alcoholic).

Alcoholic beverages are best avoided. We all must take cue from the following verse of Bhagat Ravidas Ji, enshrined in Guru Granth Sahib:

sursrI sll ikRq bwrUnI ry
sMq jn krq nhI pwnM ]
– Guru Granth Sahib, p 1293
(Even if wine is prepared with Ganga-jal, the enlightened ones would not partake of it.)


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