- Introduction to Vegan Cooking
- How to stock your pantry
- Removing the Mystery Behind Disease - Recipes
- Healthy from Inside Out - Recipes
- 305C - Recipes
- Beans and Legumes
- Dips, Dressings, and Sauces
- Drinks, Shakes, and Juices
- Meat Substitutes and Tofu
- Soups and Stews
- Vegetable Dishes
- Natural Remedies
- 13.08.10 - Scientists Discover That Plants Communicate via Symbiotic Root Fungi
- 15.05.22 - France to Force Supermarkets to Give Unsold Food to Charities
- 15.07.14 - Planned Parenthood Uses Partial-Birth Abortions to Sell Baby Parts
- 15.06.15 - Using Hand Sanitizer Can Increase Skin's Absorption of Dangerous Chemicals
- 15.06.26 - GMOs Not Tolerated in Russia
- 15.05.15 - World Population-Food Supply Balance Becoming Increasingly Unstable
- 15.05.11 - In September, the UN Launches a Major Sustainable Development Agenda for the Entire Planet
- 08.04.03 - Identical Twins' Genes Are Not Identical
- 13.06.24 - Identical Twin Studies Prove Homosexuality is Not Genetic
- 14.12.09 - Are Weather Warfare Assaults Devastating Noncompliant Countries Around the Globe?
- 14.01.28 - USA Today Columnist: Jail "anti-vac" Parents
- 14.03.10 - The Many Concerns of Using Antibiotics in Meat
- 16.01.29 - North America Bathed in Radiation from Fukushima, Levels now 1000x Above Normal for Alpha Particles
- Health Seminar Coming to Langley, BC
- 16.11.15 - Share this Breaking Story about Monsanto
- 14.02.20 - Global Food Supply Deliberately Engineered to End Life, Not Nourish It
- Contact Us
Is a Little Wine Good for the Heart?
Publish date: Feb 24, 2009
Summary: Reports show that red wine may be beneficial to heart health. Is that a good enough reason to start drinking alcohol?
|Share with others:||
Many of you have heard or read that moderate alcohol may be beneficial to your health. Here is an example of a CNN report from December 1997: "A Drink A Day Keeps The Grim Reaper Away." It stated that "researchers report that modest drinking is, on balance, healthful and alcohol's ill effects are offset by alcohol's benefit to the heart."
As a physician, it was important to me to go to the scientific literature myself to examine the evidence before I would start advising patients, as some doctors have, that alcohol be used for medicinal purposes.
First, I obtained the original research paper printed in the New England Journal of Medicine, December, 1997. Then, I did a literature search of all the articles that have been published on alcohol in the last three years. What I found was quite surprising, considering all the popular press coverage of the beneficial and medicinal properties of alcohol. The largest and longest study to date was published in the New England Journal of Medicine in December 1997, and was entitled "Alcohol Consumption and Mortality among Middle-aged and Elderly U.S. Adults."i
It followed nearly 500,000 individuals for nine years and reported a 20% decrease in mortality for those aged 35 to 70 during the study period for those who consumed at least one alcoholic beverage per day as compared to non-drinkers.They attributed nearly all of the lower death rates to medicinal effects of alcohol in protections against cardiovascular disease.
From a purely medical point of view, should physicians start recommending alcohol consumption to protect against heart disease and to promote good health? Many people have interpreted these findings to suggest moderate drinking of alcoholic beverages should be part of a healthy lifestyle.
After carefully studying the original research paper from the New England Journal of Medicine (NEJM) plus reviewing over 50 other alcohol related articles published in the medical literature in the last three years, I established the following six points that should be considered before using alcohol for medicinal purposes:
1. Alcohol is a well-established risk factor for numerous cancers. The NEJM study showed a 30% increase in breast cancer in women consuming as little as one drink per day. This added to the already known increased incidence of mouth, throat, esophagal, stomach, pancreatic, and liver cancer associated with alcohol consumption.ii The only reason that an overall decreased mortality rate was shown in the alcohol drinking population was because many more people die from heart disease than cancer. How could any physician face a patient dying a slow, painful death from a cancer clearly linked to the alcohol that had previously been recommended as a way to decrease the chance of a heart attack by only 30%, when other less risky preventative measures are available without causing cancer as a side effect?
2. By analyzing only those aged 35 to 70, the study did not accurately reflect the lifetime risk of alcohol consumption. Alcohol-related injury is the number one cause of death in the 15 to 30 years old age group.iii
3. The mechanism by which alcohol gives cardiac protection may be harmful to other body systems. Alcohol appears to protect against heart attack in two ways. First, it reduces the build up of plaque in the blood vessels. Second, alcohol acts as a blood thinner that prevents clots from forming in the already narrowed coronary arteries, which is the initial event in most heart attacks.iv Interfering with the delicate balance in the blood clotting mechanism may be a dangerous thing. A few years ago, it was noted that aspirin had blood thinning properties that prevented heart attacks. The initial reports were so impressive that thousands of physicians voluntarily started taking aspirin daily as a part of a study of the long term benefits.
The research project was stopped prematurely when it was noted that the aspirin group was experiencing an unexpectedly high incidence of hemorrhagic stroke. While trying to prevent a heart attack by thinning the blood, some of these doctors died, or were permanently disabled by bleeding into their brains. Now most doctors only recommend aspirin to patients who have already had one heart attack, because the risk of a second heart attack is greater than the aspirin-induced stroke.
This example clearly points out the danger of interfering, as alcohol does, with the delicate balance of the body in such areas of blood clotting. In addition, while preventing certain types of heart disease, alcohol has been clearly linked to heart rhythm problems and cardiomyopathy leading to congestive heart failure.v
4. The 30% decrease in the death rate from heart disease attributed to alcohol may be achieved and surpassed by other, much less risky, methods. Numerous studies have shown that simple lifestyle measures can reduce cardiac risk by 50 to 70% without any of the harmful side effects documented with alcohol usage.vi
5. The study's methodology and analysis bring into question the validity of the conclusions. It must be understood that all studies relating health risk and alcohol consumption rely on voluntary questionnaires being accurately completed. No one actually follows the patients around to document their consumption or verify their claims. One of the editors of the NEJM who wrote an editorial response pointed out that the study group reported their yearly alcohol consumption to be only half of US government per capita estimates based on industry production and sales.vii
He pointed out that either this study group did not reflect average American drinking habits, or they did not accurately complete their questionnaires. Anyone who has ever worked with alcoholics knows they are often in denial regarding their drinking patterns and some may have inaccurately placed themselves in the non-drinking groups statistics, which would have affected the validity of the conclusions.
Additionally, the NEJM study excluded from their statistics without explanation 32,000 individuals who had cancer or cirrhosis at the start of the study. These diseases are known to be closely linked to alcohol consumption and their exclusion could markedly effect mortality rates.
6. Beyond heart issues, alcohol has physiologic implications on virtually every major body system. When reading in the lay press one could easily conclude that most medical research in recent years has focused on the positive medicinal value of alcohol on the heart. In reality, a totally different picture emerges. A search of all English language research papers in the scientific literature in the last three years revealed 355 published articles of which 48 were review articles. Review articles summarize and condense research findings on a related topic. Of the 48 review articles, 44 were clearly dealing with the toxic affects of alcohol, and of the remaining four which dealt with the cardiac benefits, each article clearly included in the negative side effect. Here is only a sampling of statements taken from the abstracts of these articles.
Alcohol is a neurotoxin associated with significant morbidity and mortality...it may raise blood pressure, damage the myocardium, precipitate arrhythmias and damage the developing fetal heart(Sceepers, B.C. "Alcohol and the Brain." British Journal of Hospital Medicine, 1997; 57: 543-51).
It is well recognized that alcohol increases the risk of injury" (Guohua, L. "Alcohol and injury severity. Journal of Trauma 1997; 42:562-69).
Alcohol can lead to potentially hazardous hypoglycemia." (Meeking, D.R. "Alcohol ingestions and glycemic control. Diabetic Medicine 1997; 14:279-83).
...alcohol related problems include liver disease, dementia, confusion, peripheral neuropathy, insomnia, seizure disorders, poor nutrition, incontinence, diarrhea, myopathy, inadequate self care, macroaocytosis, depression, fractures, and adverse reactions to medications (Fink, A. "Alcohol related problems in older persons" Archives of Internal Medicine 1997; 157:242-3).
Alcohol has consistently been related to risks of sqaumous cell cancer..." (Thomas, D.B. "Alcohol as a cause of cancer. Environmental Health Perspectives 1995; 103:153-60).
The influence of alcohol on sexual behavior is part of popular knowledge (Donovan, C. "A review of the literature examining the relationship between alcohol use and HIV related sexual risk-taking in young people." Addiction 1997; 90:319-28).
Other studies showed the relationship between alcohol and osteoporosis, chronic gastritis, peptic ulcers, decreased immune response, aggressive behavior, fetal malformation and spontaneous abortion, and this is only a sampling! It is difficult to see how anyone could review the data and conclude that the beneficial properties of alcohol outweighs the toxic effects even when taken in moderate amounts.
One must consider the addictive potential of alcohol with its resultant social and economic implications. Approximately 10% of people who begin drinking will become sufficiently addicted to be considered problem drinkers or alcoholics. In a Gallup poll, one out of four Americans report their families being negatively impacted by alcohol abuse. The economic loss of worker productivity is measured in the billions of dollars. A medical pharmacology textbook states, "Alcohol is discussed here separately because its wide and abuse leads to more behavioral and organic toxicity than any other agent. The social and therapeutic problems thus generated are an unavoidable concern of every practitioner...Ethyl alcohol is an addictive drug and it would no doubt immediately be placed under the jurisdiction of the Food and Drug Administration, if it were first discovered today."viii
In conclusion, let's suppose you went to your physician and were offered a medication with the following informed consent:
"This is a drug which can reduce your chance of heart attack by 30%, but I must warn you that this drug is a direct brain and liver toxin. It will increase your chance of contracting cancer, and contribute to osteoporosis and ulcers. There's also a 5-10% chance that you will become hopelessly addicted to this drug, which could easily lead to losing your job or destroying your marriage. I must also inform you that there are some essential risk-free alternatives that are even more effective in preventing heart disease, but I think you'll really like the euphoric feeling you get when you take this drug."
First, the Federal Drug Administration would never allow a drug with this degree of risk-to-benefit profile to ever be marketed. Second, if they did, what patient in their right mind would accept such a prescription and ever trust the judgment of that physician again? It is probably fair to say that many people who claim to be using alcohol for medicinal purposes were already recreational drinkers who were happy to find some science supporting their lifestyle.
From a purely medical perspective, it is hard to justify alcohol use. The medical journal Cardiology Clinics summarizes this as follows: "Given the complex nature of alcohol disease relationships, alcohol consumption should not be considered a primary preventive strategy."ix
Read part two: Is a Little Wine Good for the Soul?
Updated November 2008. If you enjoyed this article, share it with a friend. Visit Amazing Health™ for more information on health and healthy living.
i. Thun et al., New England Journal of Medicine 337 (1997): 1705-1714.
ii. L. Rosener, "Alcohol consumption and the risk of breast cancer," Epidemiology Review 15 (1993):133-44.
iii. J.M. McGinnis, "Actual causes of death in the United States," Journal of the American Medical Association, 279 (1993): 2207-2212.
iv. W.B. Kannel, "Serum cholesterol, lipoproteins, and the risk of coronary heart disease," The Framingham Study, Ann Int Medicine 38 (1971): 1224-1232.
v. M.R. Cowie, "Alcohol and the heart," British Journal of Hospital Medicine 57 (1997): 548-551.
vi. G.J. Miller, "Alcohol consumption: protection against coronary disease and risk to health." Int. Journal Epidemiology, 19 (1990): 923-930.
vii. J.D. Potter, "Hazards and benefits of alcohol," New England Journal of Medicine 337 (1997): 1763-1764.
viii. F.H. Meyers, Review of Medical Pharmacology, Lange (1980): 242-46.
ix. J. Gaziano, "Diet and Heart Disease: the role of fat, alcohol, and antioxidance." Cardiology Clinics 14 (1996):69-83.
Healthy Living Resources
Spirituality and Health
What's the right kind of Water for my Health?
Learn the eight laws of health that lead to an abundant life.
Dr. Rainda gives good advice on balanced living.
Why is building your blood important? What does it mean to cleanse your blood? The answers to these questions could prove instrumental in guiding you to better health.
Read about four important parenting tips from Ellen White to help develop a healthy family unit.
Moderate, monitored fasting can be part of a healthy detox regime.
Starting the day right involves a hearty, healthy breakfast.
How to Achieve a Perfect Combination
Learn what young coconut kefir is, in addition to all the wonderful benefits you will reap when consuming this ever so fabulous health tonic.
Everyone experiences stress. We cannot heal from stress without understanding it first, and learning to deal with it head on.
What is Candida? Candida is the short name used to describe yeast overgrowth in the body. The technical term is Candidiasis. Like their &...
Every private home should have charcoal on hand as a ready antidote for poisoning, and as a cleansing agent in infectious and various metabolic disturbances.
A healthy heart is crucial for a healthy life. So why don't we take better care of our hearts?
We keep our muscles strong and effective in the same way that we exercise our spiritual gifts and "prayer muscles" to keep them free from atrophy.
From burns to weak bones, raw honey can help.
Written in 1936 and still used as an essential reference today. Book Review.
Melons are more than just a sweet, juicy treat.
Learn the importance of iron in the diet and how to get enough iron the vegetarian way.
Learn why you should make chia seeds a part of your diet.
Epsom salt, or magnesium sulfate, has long been used as a home remedy for a variety of ailments. Added to bath water, it has been used to relieve colds, back pain, ease muscle tension and treat certain skin conditions.
A simple green algae food, chlorella, can help with dozens of health conditions.
Learn how to take care of your biggest organ: your skin.
Several charts show best time to plant vegetables in accordance with blooming time of perennials.
A helpful chart for those wanting to grow their own garden vegetables.
Chart showing how to space your vegetables in the garden and how to care for your plants.
Is soy a smart food to include in a healthy diet?
Every 7 minutes, someone in Canada dies of a heart attack or stroke. Cardiovascular disease is a leading cause of death and magnesium deficiency is a major contributing factor.
Can plants really communicate? Ask Dr. Mercola.
Carrageenan, a food additive made from seaweed, could be harmful.
Mammogram screening is becoming increasingly popular in North America. But is it the safest way to screen for breast cancer?
Jean Handwerk explains the connection between modern wheat and many averse health effects.
Is chocolate really that bad? If so, what are the alternatives?
Find practical ideas for dealing with depression in these articles about symptoms and treatments.
It has been shown that a vegan diet can provide all the body’s needs and can be followed without fear.
Does Eat Right For Your Type by Dr. Peter J. D’Adamo align with Scripture and science?
Even if you don’t feel sick, your digestion may be poor enough to slowly poison your system. No, this isn’t simply a theory, but the conclusion from years of laboratory testing and clinical experience. Autointoxication is real.
The fever is perhaps the most overtreated health symptom of all.
Tony de Morais explains the wide spectrum of uses for clay.
In 1971 President Nixon and Congress declared war on cancer. So what's happened in the 40 years since? After weeding out the hype and filling in the actual statistics, it turns out, not much.
Can anything be done to prevent common illnesses?
Don't let dentists put this poison in your mouth!
A look at the health benefits of potatoes.
Dr. Roy Swank found that the diets of those with Multiple Sclerosis can make a difference in their prognosis.
Take a closer look at the safety of midwife-assisted home births versus hospital births.
When you open the fridge to grab a snack, consider simple, healthy alternatives to sugar-filled munchies and beverages.
A quick reference list of healthful, dairy-free ways to get your calcium.
Find information on the products that Jeanie Davis recommends in Healthy from Inside Out
Learn the best, natural mixture to use when cleaning fresh veggies and fruit.
When shopping for groceries, check the labels for carrageenan, a thickening agent scientists are blaming for various gastrointestinal illnesses.
The World Health Organization (WHO) recently released an air quality model to show that more than 9 in 10 people live in areas that have unsafe levels of air pollution.
Food borne illness is on the increase worldwide. In most cases, animal products are implicated as the main source of infection.
Health is about more than just diet or exercise.
Inject some fun into your food routine with these healthy meal ideas.
Pain pills aren't always the best way to deal with aches and soreness. Various therapies—including vibrational therapy—can have you on the road to recovery.
Some fruits and vegetables should not be eaten together, as they can react and cause digestive issues.
Have you considered carob as an alternative to chocolate? See for yourself the impact chocolate can have on your health.
Learn about the acidity or alkalinity of your favorite foods.
If God made the world, and our bodies, then the Creation story can give us clues about how we should live for optimum health. But how did what God called "good" transform into a dog-eat-dog world of carnivores, thorns, parasites, and other ugly aspects of Creation?
If God made everything so good, why are there so many problems? Are thorns and weeds evolved adaptations or changes in Creation?
This article uses pieces of nature, such as the genome, the cell, and even the eye, as evidence that God is the Creator of all things.
It seems clear that organisms change over time. But why? Is it evolution?
Some call it cacophony and are driven to madness; others find it the most beautiful event in all of creation—the dawn chorus of the birds.
There are many types of water available today. Some are better for your health than others.
Learn why drinking at least 2.5L of water per day is vital to your body's health at any age.
Fluoride in drinking water has been linked to decline in IQ and may cause health issues.
Excitotoxins cause physical and spiritual destruction.
Is consuming alcohol ever a good idea?
Smoking leads to massive amounts of sickness and death every year.
Maybe vegetarianism is the best option after all...
Get the truth about lactose, calcium, and the need for caution around dairy products.
The agriculture industry is fast becoming reliant on genetically modified foods. Learn the facts about GMOs and the effects this trend is having on health worldwide.
Diabetes is spreading across North America. Is there anything we can do to stop this killer disease?
Refined sugar is addictive, destructive, and devoid of any nutritional value. Why does it continue to be a staple food across the world?
There are now over 3,000 additives in our foods. Incredibly, only 7% have any nutritional value.
Do the stimulating benefits of coffee really outweigh the costs?
Most of the bread products consumed today are made of refined grains. Are our breakfast cereals and "fortified" loaves as healthy as we like to think?
Vaccination began 200 years ago as an experimental life-saving medical tool. While it originally had some merit, today it has become perhaps the leading cause of death and disability among our children.
Music enters the brain through its emotional regions, which include the temporal lobe and the limbic system.
Plant medicine safety pale in comparison to the promotional and safety practices of the mainstream drug industry.