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Alcohol consumption debate rages on

Scientists and doctors seem to be forever changing their minds on what is good for us to eat and drink and what is bad for us to consume. Some foods, such as eggs, have been promoted as a good part of a healthful diet and also condemned as a way of pushing cholesterol to unsafe levels.

There has been a similar push/pull discourse over moderate consumption of alcohol. There are researchers and doctors who say a drink or two per day helps prevent cardiovascular disease, and there are those who say that any amount of alcohol is unsafe, according to a recent report from Medscape.

A recent World Health Organization (WHO) report on cancer stated that any amount of alcohol increases cancer risks, an assertion immediately assailed by the International Scientific Forum on Alcohol Research.

"WHO seems to deliberately ignore the overwhelming scientific evidence showing that light-to-moderate consumption of alcohol not only reduces overall mortality but is usually not associated with an increased risk of cancer," the group said.

Medscape notes that are several possible reasons for the apparently beneficial effects of moderate alcohol consumption, but cautions that these are observed effects, not proven ones. Of course, the discussion of the possible benefits of moderate consumption begs the question: just what is moderate?

First, the definition of a drink: 1.5 ounces of 80-proof spirits or 5 ounces of wine or 12 ounces of regular beer. Moderate drinking is then typically considered to be one drink per day for a woman and two drinks per day for a man.

When those limits are exceeded, health problems can ensue as well as legal problems, including charges of DUI or DWAI. 

Source:, "Alcohol and CVD: The Tippling Point," Tricia Ward, June 19, 2014

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