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From: Jeff Novick, MS, RD, LD, LN (novick.vegsource.com)
Subject:         Re: Healthy Alcohol?
Date: July 29, 2008 at 4:13 pm PST

In Reply to: Healthy Alcohol? posted by Dave on July 29, 2008 at 3:16 pm:

Alcohol, in any form, is not a health food.

There is some health advantage that has been related to alcohol in small amounts, regardless of the source. The extra advantage red wine is supposed to have, is because of the nutrients that come from the skin of the red grapes which are added back into the wine to make it red.

This is one area will there will always be mixed info. Why? Simple. Alcohol, while it may have some potential benefit in relation to certain diseases like heart disease, it also has known health risks. So, many studies try to sort through this and figure out where the cut-off levels are and at what level the benefits outweigh the risks.

A recent study that made the popular press confirmed the known relationship between alcohol and breast cancer in women. This is not a new story. The new information was that in this study it seemed that there was an increased risk with any amount of alcohol consumed by women. In addition, having 3 or more drinks everyday increased their risk similar to smoking cigarettes.

Previously it was though that if women consumed 4 or less drinks a week, there was no increased risk for breast cancer. Some studies said there was no risk if they consumed 7 or less drinks a week. In addition, several studies have shown that, either way, this increased risk is negated by consuming adequate folate.

Alcohol is a known carcinogen, increasing the risk of many cancers. in addition, death from injuries, violence, suicide, poisoning, cirrhosis, and possibly hemorrhagic stroke are all related to alcohol use also.

The often touted benefit of alcohol is that moderate consumption reduces your risk for several diseases including heart disease, diabetes, Alzheimer's and may increase longevity.

We always here about the French Paradox. How the French eat as much if not more saturated fat and cholesterol then we in American do, but don't suffer the amount of heart disease we do because they are protected by the red wine they drink. There is no French Paradox. They may have fewer heart attacks, but they suffer more of almost every alcohol related illness and do not live any longer. You can read the article, The French Paradox & The Mediterranean Mix-Up, at my website for more info.

Some will argue that the benefit of alcohol only reduces the risks from diseases that we can virtually eliminate through other lifestyle factors (ie., diet, exercise, ) that do not have the risks of alcohol, so why add in a known carcinogen. And, there are those who argue that alcohol, in and of itself, confers health benefits above and beyond just reducing certain risk factors.

In my opinion.. people should not drink. What would be better is to first do everything they can to ensure optimal health through proper diet, exercise and lifestyle. Alcohol does not have to part of this. You can dramatically decrease your risk for many of the causes of premature death through a healthy alcohol-free diet and lifestyle.

If someone doesn't drink, they shouldn't start, especially if they have had problems in the past.

If they decide to drink, they should limit the amount of alcohol to no more than the equivalent of 1/2 a drink a day for women and no more than 1 drink a day for men. And, consuming more than 1-2 drinks at any one time is not healthy either. In addition, realize there may be some increased risk for certain cancers from this.

However, on the other hand, healthy foods, like grapes, contain many beneficial components including nutrients, vitamins, minerals, and fiber along with antioxidants and phytochemicals.

In Health
Jeff

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