Rational Nation USA
Birthplace of Independent Conservationism
In a welcome break from news reporting on the crisis of power in Egypt and the shocking weather enveloping much of the nation the past two days it is confirmed that alcohol -- when consumed in moderation -- has beneficial health effects.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture released its 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans on Monday. There weren't many surprises in its recommendations to reduce fat and salt, eat whole grains, and cut the overall amount we eat.
But here's one thing that might surprise you. Chapter Three, titled "Foods and Food Components to Reduce," deals with alcohol. The Guidelines, created by America's leading health researchers, state: "Alcohol consumption may have beneficial effects when consumed in moderation (up to two drinks daily). Strong evidence from observational studies has shown that moderate alcohol consumption is associated with a lower risk of cardiovascular disease. Moderate alcohol consumption also is associated with reduced risk of all-cause mortality among middle-aged and older adults and may help to keep cognitive function intact with age."
What was that again?
Moderate alcohol consumption is associated with reduced risk of all-cause mortality and may help to keep cognitive function intact with age? You mean, alcohol is associated with living and remaining mentally alert longer?
Researchers at the Harvard Health Professionals study team, which has tracked the health of doctors and nurses for decades, have consistently found that the health benefits associated with moderate drinking are real. They measure all forms of health behavior in addition to drinking (e.g., smoking, diet, weight, exercise, concurrent health conditions such as diabetes and heart disease) and have uniformly found the benefits of alcohol to persist within each category.
If we did change our thinking in this direction, it would create a major shift in health policy. Health educators would have to explain that drinking can be good for you; advertisers could make health claims.
Wow, some of us have known this for many years. Now it's official.
A toast to the good life and your health!