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Critique 029: What should we advise about alcohol consumption? A debate amongst scientists
Date:1/18/2011

A Letter to the Editor entitled "What should we advise about alcohol consumption?" was recently published by Maurizio Ponz de Leon in Intern Emerg Med.1 Dr. de Leon argues that the message of health benefits of moderate drinking "seems to me hazardous and extremely dangerous to diffuse in the general population." His reasons included (1) many people may be unable to distinguish between lowmoderate and high consumption of wine, beer or spirits, and alcohol metabolism may differ remarkably from one subject to another; (2) alcohol remains a frequent cause of car crash, and governments (in almost all western countries) try to convince or force people to abstain from drinking before driving; and (3) to consider alcohol as a medication whose consumption may contribute to improved health is another source of concern. Dr. de Leon asks: "Are we truly at the point of prescribing alcohol consumption in order to reduce the risk of stroke and coronary damage?" He concluded "more studies are needed before we can give sensible recommendations on alcohol consumption to the general population."

The de Leon editorial has prompted considerable response from other scientists, including further Letters to the Editor of the journal by Di Castelnuovo, Costanzo, Donati, Iacoviello, and de Gaetano,2 and by Estruch and Lamuela-Raventos.3 In addition, the original editorial has stimulated considerable debate among members of the International Scientific Forum on Alcohol Research. Among key arguments presented by the Forum members, all experts in scientific research on alcohol, are that messages to the public should not be "paternalistic" (we will tell you what is best for you since you are not smart enough to understand the facts), and that guidelines must always be based on sound, balanced scientific data rather than on uninformed opinion. Forum members emphasized that there are certain people who should not drink at all (including former abusers of drugs or alcohol,
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Contact: R. Curtis Ellison
eillison@bu.edu
508-333-1256
Boston University Medical Center
Source:Eurekalert

Page: 1 2

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