April 7, 2004 | David F. Coppedge

Sober Up About Alleged Alcohol Benefits

The Brits are not about to take an axe to the pubs, but Nature this week published two sober warnings about the dangers of alcohol abuse.  They warn that the oft-claimed benefits of drinking in moderation apply only to a few groups (primarily the elderly), and are drowned in the known health risks.  “We pay too much attention to the health benefits of alcohol and neglect the devastating effects of excessive consumption,” says one editorial,1 and Helen Pearson calls it “the demon drink” in her News Feature2  (see also Nature Science Update).  She begins, “Alcohol and tobacco are the terrible twins of public health.  Both increase the risk of cancer and other life-threatening diseases.  Both are promoted aggressively by a powerful industry.  And both can be horribly addictive.”  Alcohol purveyors stress the benefits, but don’t tell you about “its numerous evils.  Even small amounts of alcohol increase the risk of injury and boost the chances of developing about 60 diseases, including several cancers, liver cirrhosis and neuropsychological disorders.”

1Editorial, “Some sobering thoughts,” Nature 428, 587 (08 April 2004); doi:10.1038/428587b.
2Helen Pearson, “Public health: The demon drink,” Nature 428, 598 – 600 (08 April 2004); doi:10.1038/428598a.

In ancient times, without refrigeration, some fermentation was unavoidable; still, sober-minded people knew the dangers of undiluted wine and condemned drunkenness (see Proverbs 23:29-35).  Today, with refrigeration, pasteurization, and so many safe options available to us, why take unnecessary risks?  At least don’t claim you do it for your health.  It’s a preference, and not a wise one.  Some things, while legal, may not be wise; they can take over (see I Cor. 6:12).  Keep your head.  The good book commends sober-mindedness.  You’ll need that to read these pages.

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Categories: Health

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