When deciding what topic to blog this month, I elected to focus on a darker subject. At our
practice we try to focus on healthy living including diet and exercise. In my opinion, one of the
key forms of a healthy diet is limiting/lessening the bad foods/drink as much as increasing the
good foods/drink. My subject this month is alcohol, here are a few facts/stats about alcohol.

Let me preface by saying, I’m not on a soapbox stating that alcohol is bad and that we should
reenact prohibition. Just that, smart/intelligent choices can often be the difference between a
healthy life and serious morbidity and potential death.

This is a list of the most dangerous holidays (according to Forbes), when considering alcohol
related deaths.

6. New Year’s Day
5. Christmas Day
4. Memorial Day
3. Independence Day
2. Labor Day
1. Thanksgiving Day

I was rather shocked to see that Labor Day trumped New Year’s and Memorial Day. Super
Bowl Sunday might have been #1, but it technically isn’t a national holiday.

Human beings have been drinking alcohol for 10,000 years. A lot of the discussion has been
over the type of alcohol, the amount drank and the frequency. Moderate drinking, especially red
wine is noted to be good for the heart and circulatory system. From the reading I have done,
whether you drink hard alcohol, wine or beer– -too much is too much. Any health benefits are
long erased when one chooses to over indulge. Furthermore most of the health benefits from
alcohol can be mimicked, even improved upon with a good diet and exercise– -with essentially
no side-effects.

“While heavy drinking is a major cause of preventable death in most countries. In the
U.S., alcohol is implicated in about half of fatal traffic accidents. Heavy drinking can
damage the liver and heart, harm an unborn child, increase the chances of developing
breast and some other cancers, contribute to depression and violence, and interfere with
relationships.

Alcohol’s two-faced nature shouldn’t come as a surprise. The active ingredient in
alcoholic beverages, a simple molecule called ethanol, affects the body in many different
ways. It directly influences the stomach, brain, heart, gallbladder, and liver. It affects
levels of lipids (cholesterol and triglycerides) and insulin in the blood, as well as
inflammation and coagulation. It also alters mood, concentration, and coordination.” (1)

Some chilling statistics about alcohol (excessive drinking) are:

  • Between 2006-2010 approximately 88,000 deaths and 2.5 million years of potential life
    was lost each year in the United States– -in essence shortening the lives of those who died
    by an average of 30 years.
    o 1 in 10 deaths among working-age adults aged 20-64 years were related to
    alcohol.
  • On a global perspective alcohol causes approximately 3.3 million deaths every year (or
    5.9% of all deaths), and 5.1% of the global burden of disease is attributable to alcohol
    consumption.
  • 18.2 million Americans meet the criteria for alcohol abuse/alcoholism.
    The take-home point here is that if everyone who drank could limit themselves to an appropriate
    amount– -this amount is certainly up for debate, let’s just say not drinking to excess, whatever
    that number/amount is, we probably wouldn’t need as many cardiologists, gastroenterologists,
    mental health professionals, and substance abuse counselors. Even more important 88,000 more
    Americans would be returning to their families on an annual basis.

Have a safe/wonderful month– -for that matter, enjoy each and every day.

Ideas and concepts drawn from the following websites:
1. http://apps.who.int/iris/bitstream/10665/112736/1/9789240692763_eng.pdf
2. https://www.cdc.gov/alcohol/fact-sheets/alcohol-use.htm
3. https://www.hsph.harvard.edu/nutritionsource/alcohol-full-story/
4. https://www.forbes.com/2009/11/20/dangerous-thanksgiving-fatalities-lifestyle-vehicles-drunk-traffic-accidents.html