Are you becoming as skeptical as I am about public information? Fake political news? Alternative facts about the state of the world’s economy? So, now I ask how honest is medical news? Of course everyone knows that consuming stupid amounts of alcohol is unhealthy. But puritans and some doctors can’t accept the proven fact that moderate amounts of alcohol can prolong life.
The Doctor Game
Professor Keith Scott-Mumby, an internationally known U.K. expert on alternative medicine, echoes what I have written over the years, that people who drink moderately live longer on average than teetotalers or those who drink to excess. In fact, there are over 20 studies that confirm this. In court it’s a criminal offense to withhold truth, so why doesn’t the same principle hold true in medicine?
Scott-Mumby points out that the lack of discussion of the beneficial impact of alcohol has for years been a systematic policy of the U.S. public health establishment. For instance, the National Institutes of Health, which funded a research study on alcohol, forbad a Harvard epidemiologist who participated in the study from publishing the health benefits of drinking!
There is strong evidence that alcohol protects against heart disease. Studies show that it increases the good cholesterol HDL. Possibly more important, it dilates arteries and makes blood platelets less likely to clot, decreasing the risk of a fatal heart attack.
But Scott-Mumby says none of these facts were publicly reported when Larry King, the well-known T.V. personality, underwent a bypass procedure in 1987 after a heart attack. Later, in 2007, he hosted a two hour PBS television Special on Heart Disease featuring five experts who talked about exercise, diet and smoking. But there was no mention that abstinence from alcohol was a risk factor for heart disease.
Scott-Mumby also reports good news for Boomers, that the use of alcohol may protect against dementia. He cites the 2008 Research Society on Alcoholism Review based on the Whitehall Study which analyzed 45 reports since the early 1990s.This showed that there were significantly reduced risks of dementia from moderate drinking. So, why don’t we hear more about this fact, particularly, when Alzheimer’s Disease and other forms of dementia are increasing?
He adds that the U.S. is not a heavy drinking nation, yet its health outcomes are poor, as it has almost double the amount of diabetes, cancer and heart disease compared to the English who drink more.
I’ve often written about the advantages of moderate drinking. But, according to Scott-Mumby’s research, even serious drinkers, the ones who drink six or more drinks daily, still live longer than teetotalers! And he claims that puritans can’t stand this fact.
So what’s the message? Neither Scott-Mumby nor I condone the three martini lunch, nor do we urge anyone to start drinking alcohol. What we are both saying is that neither abstainers nor doctors should distort the truth of the health benefits of alcohol.
All too often I have witnessed this at medical conventions. Researchers have detailed the many medical benefits of alcohol. But after confirmation by several speakers, finally one says, “But we must not inform the public about this as it will result in car accidents, marriage difficulties and other societal problems.”
But we don’t prevent the sale of cars because some idiots drive at 150 miles an hour. So I believe it is hypocritical, dishonest and maybe even criminal, to withhold scientifically proven news about alcohol.
Today it seems that truth, like commonsense, is becoming an uncommon commodity. The motto of The Harvard Medical School at its founding was “Veritas”. I believed this motto when I was a medical student there and I still believe it today.
This medical journalist is not, and never will be, an alcoholic. So I enjoy a drink before dinner with family and friends. I believe it’s one of the habits that keeps me relaxed at the end of the day and also alive all these years.
Past experience tells me that controversial columns do not please everyone, including doctors. But society is in deep trouble when it skirts truth, tries to hide it or simply ignore it. Facts are facts, and history has shown that Veritas eventually wins.
– W. Gifford-Jones MD