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Publish date: Oct 16, 2009
Summary: What are the positives and negatives to alcohol consumption?
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Many media reports today advocate that certain kinds of alcohol used in moderation are healthy for the heart. There have been news headlines asking the question “Why don’t the French have heart disease?” The truth of the matter is that the French do have heart disease—it is their second leading cause of death—but they have less heart disease than Americans. So the next question is why? Many believe that their higher intake of red wine is attributable to their lower incidence of heart disease. In actuality, there are other factors that apply.
Studies have shown that the French have a lower consumption of dairy products. Dairy fat is strongly related to heart disease and the French drink very little milk. Another factor is that the French consume a higher amount of vegetables and fruits, which are know to be heart-protective. It should be noted here that certain groups in America have a far lower rate of heart disease than the French and one of these groups is American Seventh-day Adventist vegetarians. They (for the most part) drink no wine or alcohol. Unfortunately, these findings rarely find their way to the media.
When it comes to drug abuse, alcohol tops the charts. Parents are generally concerned about their teens getting hooked on cocaine, crystal meth, or a host of other addictive drugs, yet see nothing wrong with their teens having a social drink. The facts are startling but true—many kids are already alcoholics by the time they reach adulthood and others are just as surely on their way. Alcohol claims at least 100,000 American lives per year, which is five times as many as all illegal drugs combined. In the United States, alcohol is second only to tobacco on the list of most deadly drugs, and this probably extends to the rest of the world as well.
Alcohol is a toxin that our bodies do not like. Just a single drink and a low blood alcohol level of 0.02%t blunts the frontal lobe capacities with a decrease in judgment and inhibitions. Even small amounts of alcohol can cause irreparable damage to the brain cells, many of which die while others are altered. The actual loss of brain cells with resulting brain shrinkage (cerebral atrophy) is known to occur in heavy drinkers. Note that there is roughly ½ ounce (15 grams) of pure alcohol in each of the following:
• 1 ½ oz. of 80 proof liquor
• 5 oz of table wine
• 12 oz. of beer
Let’s look at the negative aspects of alcohol:
1. Social Problems
The National Council on Alcohol and Drug Dependency states that alcohol is closely linked with virtually every negative aspect of society: suicide, violent crime, birth defects, industrial accidents, domestic and sexual abuse, disease, homelessness, and death. Alcohol ravages the lives of family and friends.
2. Dollars Spent on Alcohol
More than $86 billion are spent annually in the US to purchase alcoholic beverages and as much as $116 billion are spent annually for the cost of damage to society from alcohol such as divorce courts, health care, lost work, and premature deaths. The total annual cost therefore, amounts to more than $202,000,000,000 for alcoholic beverages annually.
3. Effects on the Body
Alcohol damages the brain. It increases the risk of hypertension, stroke and damage to the heart muscle. It depresses the respiratory functions, and weakens the body’s immune system, which is the body’s defense against cancers and infection. Alcohol can damage cells in the testes, causing impotence, sterility and possible enlarged breasts in men. In women, it can cause irregular menstrual cycles and malfunctioning of the ovaries.
It is also a well-known fact that alcohol is linked to birth defects in infants and to fetal alcohol syndrome. Other side effects of alcohol use are elevated triglycerides, impaired sexual function, low blood sugar, vitamin and mineral deficiency, chronic fatigue, osteoporosis, gout, anemia, and a decreased number of blood platelets. Alcohol affects the liver more than any other organ of the body because the liver must filter alcohol from the blood. This results in excess calories in the alcohol being stored as fat in the liver. In addition, functioning liver cells die from alcohol poisoning and the scar tissue that replaces these dead cells causes cirrhosis of the liver.
4. Our Young People are Getting Hooked
The challenge to stay drug-and-alcohol-free is greater now than ever for teenagers. The media is constantly bombarding our kids, telling them that drinking alcohol is synonymous with being accepted and having a good time. The peer pressure is enormous. Statistics show that 37% of all 12 through 17 year-olds currently use alcohol, not to mention the fact that 5 million American teens already have serious problems stemming from alcohol use.
It is true that young people who grow up in nonalcoholic homes are less likely to have problems with alcohol when they reach adulthood. This means that a parent’s example can make a huge difference. Not only do parents bear responsibility but Christian churches are also able to influence the moral values and practices of society more than any other institution through their beliefs, teachings and preaching.
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