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

people with certain medical conditions, children and adolescents, and people with religious or moral proscriptions against alcohol), and there can never be a general recommendation for everybody to consume alcohol. On the other hand, physicians should not withhold from their patients and the public scientifically sound and balanced data on alcohol and health. And the data are extremely strong supporting a role for moderate alcohol intake, for appropriate adults, for the reduction in risk of coronary artery disease and other diseases of ageing.

Several Forum members pointed out that it was unfortunate that the journal had chosen to publish the original letter that castigates alcohol from an author with good scientific credentials, but little to no apparent research expertise in the subject of alcohol and health. Many Forum members disagreed with the statement of de Leon that "Many people may be unable to distinguish between lowmoderate and high consumption of wine, beer or spirits." A leading scientist dealing with this subject for decades, Dr. Arthur Klatsky, has written: "Most people know very well what the difference is between light to moderate drinking and binge or excessive drinking. While some patients may rationalize their heavy drinking because of its purported health effects, I have yet to find someone who had developed alcohol abuse because of messages about the health effects of moderate drinking." Medical practitioners, in his view, "have a 'solemn duty' to tell the truth about alcohol consumption, as they understand it, to all of their patients." While pointing out that certain individuals will not benefit from the consumption of alcohol, several Forum members believed that it would be unethical for physicians to withhold from middle-aged or elderly subjects at risk of cardiovascular disease information on the potential benefits of light-to-moderate drinking


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Contact: R. Curtis Ellison
eillison@bu.edu
508-333-1256
Boston University Medical Center
Source:Eurekalert

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