Say it ain’t so: Alcohol in moderation is bad for us again!
According to a recent study published in the journal Alcoholism, low-level alcohol use - one or two snorts of hooch on occasion - may benefit cardiovascular disease, but it increases the risk of cancer.
To which I respond: Oh, c’mon!
I don’t know if our scientists have noticed, but our country is politically and culturally divided. Our people are agitated and angry. Life’s simple pleasures are among the few things about which we have any consensus these days.
Yet for years, our simple pleasures have been under scientific assault.
Back in the ‘90s, a series of alarming reports told us that movie-theater popcorn would congest our arteries worse than eating Crisco right out of the can.
Then we learned that Chinese food would fatten us, and that a hearty fast-food breakfast could be so risky we might not make it to lunch.
For years, we were told that red meat is bad for our hearts. But now, we’re being told that it is also causing climate change - so we need to start eating bugs instead!
Look, too few Americans are aware of where our food comes from and what is in it - which partly helps explain our obesity epidemic. But it’s awfully frustrating that our scientists can’t seem to make up their minds.
For years, they told us coffee was bad for us - before deciding that, in moderation, it stimulates our arteries, and protects against Parkinson’s disease, type 2 diabetes and liver disease. Coffee certainly makes my noggin sharper as the workday begins!
For years, scientists told us to avoid fat and carbs. Now, they tell us to limit carbs and that proper fats are essential to good health - that some people don’t have enough fat in their diets!
For years, scientists told us alcohol was bad. Then they told us that, in moderation, it prevents heart disease, reduces the chance of ischemic stroke and possibly reduces the risk of diabetes!
But now, alcohol in moderation is bad for us again? Regrettably, the issue remains unsettled.
According to The Washington Post, the alcohol-in-moderation issue was supposed to be clarified by a 10-year, $100 million Moderate Alcohol and Cardiovascular Health trial sponsored by The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, part of the National Institutes of Health (NIH).
But the study’s credibility collapsed, The Post reports, when an “internal NIH investigation found that researchers had engaged in extensive communication with industry representatives before the government’s approval of the trial.”
Thus, it was canceled. Which puts us right back at square one!
Some scientists, including an epidemiologist cited by The Post, say “drinkers should drink a little bit every day, without any days off, because alcohol makes blood platelets less sticky and keeps other clotting factors low.”
But another scientist told The Post: “The burden of evidence is toward alcohol having a detrimental effect on heart disease, even in small quantities.”
As a result, millions of average Americans are in a constant state of confusion and debate about many things scientific - while they’re also in a constant state of confusion and debate about many things political and cultural.
One solution? Embrace the witty wisdom of Irish poet and playwright Oscar Wilde: Enjoy “everything in moderation, including moderation.”
Tom Purcell is a Pittsburgh Tribune-Review humor columnist. Send comments to Tom at Tom@TomPurcell.com.