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Massive Study Re: Alcohol: No "Safe Level" of Consumption

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Here:

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No amount of alcohol is good for your overall health, global study says
By Sandee LaMotte, CNN
Updated 1:09 PM ET, Fri August 24, 2018

If you're one of the third of all humankind who drinks alcohol, take note: There's no amount of liquor, wine or beer that is safe for your overall health, according to a new analysis of 2016 global alcohol consumption and disease risk.

Alcohol was the leading risk factor for disease and premature death in men and women between the ages of 15 and 49 worldwide in 2016, accounting for nearly one in 10 deaths, according to the study, published Thursday in the journal The Lancet.

For all ages, alcohol was associated with 2.8 million deaths that year.

Those deaths include alcohol-related cancer and cardiovascular diseases, infectious diseases such as tuberculosis, intentional injury such as violence and self-harm, and traffic accidents and other unintentional injuries such as drowning and fires.

Here's a link to the study itself.

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"The most surprising finding was that even small amounts of alcohol use contribute to health loss globally," said senior study author Emmanuela Gakidou, a professor at the University of Washington's Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation. "We're used to hearing that a drink or two a day is fine. But the evidence is the evidence."

Hmm.  I've never framed consumption of alcohol as per se unsafe.  

I thought this rebuttal (quoted in the article) was rather weak:

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"This study is a stark reminder of the real, and potentially lethal, dangers that too much alcohol can have on our health and that even the lowest levels of alcohol intake increase our risks," Helen Stokes-Lampard, chair of the Royal College of General Practitioners in the UK, said in a statement. She was not involved in the study.

However, countered David Spiegelhalter, the Winton Professor for the Public Understanding of Risk at the University of Cambridge, "Given the pleasure presumably associated with moderate drinking, claiming there is no 'safe' level does not seem an argument for abstention.

"There is no safe level of driving, but governments do not recommend that people avoid driving," Spiegelhalter, who also was not involved in the research, said in a statement. 

C'mon.  Driving - transporting ourselves from place to place - is a necessity.  Hence taking the risks associated with driving is a necessity.

Drinking, on the other hand, is not a necessity.

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The countries with the highest percentage of men and women who reported drinking in the previous year were Denmark, Norway and Germany. Although they didn't make the top 10, 85.3% of men and 81.3% of women in the UK said they had tippled in the previous 12 months. In the US, 68.8% of men and 56.8% of women said they had done so.

Countries with the lowest percentage of drinking citizens were typically Arab and Middle Eastern nations.

FWIW, according to this article, Utah (67.7% of which identify as LDS) ranks 48th for alcohol consumption in the U.S.  Idaho (26.4% LDS) ranks 41st.

I am not interested in condemning people who choose to imbibe.  But for my religious beliefs, I would probably consume alcohol.

But it it interesting to see a study that appears to vindicate total abstention from alcohol.

Thoughts?

-Smac

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My biggest issue is when we apply, what we believe to be, a scientific rational for _____ commandment or instruction. We’ve pushed this for a long time, particularly with the word of wisdom, to the point where it’s almost as if we’ve set the precedent that whether or not _____ is a good commandment or instruction hinges upon scientific understanding of _____, which too often misses the mark. 

I think the idea of “health” gets conflated with many different things. People have said alcohol is beneficial for _____, and therefore it’s good for general health. Questions that are asked scientifically are fluid, and though this says health overall, it’s the debate isn’t over, and when there’s an overemphasis on scientific justification for commandments, those growing up with testimonies reinforced from scientific validation from commandments my find that rational susceptible to compromise when that ‘scientific understanding’ runs contrary to any particular commandment.

I’m not suggesting that’s the case with this post, but I see many people posting this as being vindication regarding belief, but the word of wisdom is about much more than health alone — much like ancient Israel’s command to abstain from pork wasn’t really about lowering cholesterol or preventing the spread of trichinosis, though those may have been favorable byproducts.

I think the debate of a lack of nuance will take hold. For instance, if warfarin were a recreational substance, there would likewise be data showing it is not good for general health, at least in the macro.

Edited by Judd
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1 hour ago, Judd said:

My biggest issue is when we apply, what we believe to be, a scientific rational for _____ commandment or instruction.

I think a scientific rationale is a relatively harmless thing.  For years I've stuck with the Word of Wisdom despite the generalized consensus that moderate alcohol consumption is healthy. 

1 hour ago, Judd said:

We’ve pushed this for a long time, particularly with the word of wisdom, to the point where it’s almost as if we’ve set the precedent that whether or not _____ is a good commandment or instruction hinges upon scientific understanding of _____, which too often misses the mark. 

"Hinges upon?"  No.  Obedience to the WoW is, for me, primarily a principal of faith.

But I think scientific studies can, to an extent, buttress the wisdom in the underlying principles of the Word of Wisdom, or else place those principles within the parameters of "reasonableness."

For some reason, it seems that our society is under the impression that abstention from alcohol is an admirable endeavor for people coping with alcoholism or health problems, but abstention then becomes weird or absurd when practiced as a principle of religious faith.  I've never understood that.

The article referenced in the OP seems to place alcohol consumption in any amount in the "not healthy" category (with a possible exception for slightly reducing the risk of ischemic heart disease - see here).  The teetotaling prescribed by our faith makes even more sense than it did before.  But in the end, adherence to the WoW is still predominantly a matter of faith.

1 hour ago, Judd said:

I think the idea of “health” gets conflated with many different things. People have said alcohol is beneficial for _____, and therefore it’s good for general health.

I think you are referencing a slight reduction in the risk of heart disease through moderate alcohol consumption.  "For ischemic heart disease, there was a J-shaped curve, meaning that risk fell slightly with a small amount of alcohol consumption, relative to abstinence. In particular, women who drank 0.92 drinks/day had 82% the likelihood of developing this kind of heart disease and men who drank 0.83 drinks/day had 86% the risk of it. There were other benefits (for stroke and diabetes), but they weren't statistically significant."  (Link)

1 hour ago, Judd said:

Questions that are asked scientifically are fluid, and though this says health overall, it’s the debate isn’t over, and when there’s an overemphasis on scientific justification for commandments, those growing up with testimonies reinforced from scientific validation from commandments my find that rational susceptible to compromise when that ‘scientific understanding’ runs contrary to any particular commandment.

I agree.  The proscription against tea, for example, seems hard to justify as a matter of "science."  Same with coffee.

1 hour ago, Judd said:

I’m not suggesting that’s the case with this post, but I see many people posting this as being vindication regarding belief, but the word of wisdom is about much more than health alone — much like ancient Israel’s command to abstain from pork wasn’t really about lowering cholesterol or preventing the spread of trichinosis, though those may have been favorable byproducts.

A very good point.

1 hour ago, Judd said:

I think the debate of a lack of nuance will take hold. For instance, if warfarin were a recreational substance, there would likewise be data showing it is not good for general health, at least in the macro.

We'll see.

Thanks,

-Smac

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4 hours ago, smac97 said:

I thought this rebuttal (quoted in the article) was rather weak:

C'mon.  Driving - transporting ourselves from place to place - is a necessity.  Hence taking the risks associated with driving is a necessity.

Drinking, on the other hand, is not a necessity.

An argument can be made that through most of human history drinking was the more normal pursuit. It is also dangerous to try to draw support for the Word of Wisdom (a temporary commandment applied only to the Last Days for specific reasons) when said support makes fools of most every other dispensation of the Gospel.

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11 minutes ago, The Nehor said:

An argument can be made that through most of human history drinking was the more normal pursuit. It is also dangerous to try to draw support for the Word of Wisdom (a temporary commandment applied only to the Last Days for specific reasons) when said support makes fools of most every other dispensation of the Gospel.

I don't think consumption of alcohol "makes fools" of anyone in any other dispensation.

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For years I've stuck with the Word of Wisdom despite the generalized consensus that moderate alcohol consumption is healthy.

I have heard of a number of saints who have started using green tea in some form because of its health benefits.  So while most likely aren't changing their practices based on what science says, others are from what .I have seen and justifying it because they see science being used to justify the WoW as a commandment.

I am not judging whether the choice to use green tea in some form is correct, just pointing out the change in behaviour I have seen and the justification for it.

Edited by Calm

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http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/health-45283401

“Analysing data from 15 to 95-year-olds, the researchers compared people who did not drink at all with those who had one alcoholic drink a day.”

That’s a fairly extreme pair of samples. 

0 consumption vs daily consumption. There are plenty of people who have a few at a weekend and nothing in between. 

The headline of “no safe consumption” is not supported by the evidence presented in this article. 

I’d be interested to know whether “one bar of chocolate a day” vs someone who had never eaten chocolate would create a similar difference in health results. Or a cake a day vs never eating cake. Or maybe a beef burger every day vs never eating meat?

“They found that out of 100,000 non-drinkers, 914 would develop an alcohol-related health problem such as cancer or suffer an injury.”

So the study found that if you drink no alcohol you’ve a 0.914% chance of developing an alcohol related problem (even though you didn’t ever drink alcohol in the first place). Drinking a unit every day increases your risk by 0.004%.

While there’s plenty of arguments against alcohol in excess, I don’t think this new evidence is convincing against drinking alcohol in moderation.

 

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2 hours ago, canard78 said:

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/health-45283401

“Analysing data from 15 to 95-year-olds, the researchers compared people who did not drink at all with those who had one alcoholic drink a day.”

That’s a fairly extreme pair of samples. 

0 consumption vs daily consumption. There are plenty of people who have a few at a weekend and nothing in between. 

The headline of “no safe consumption” is not supported by the evidence presented in this article. 

I’d be interested to know whether “one bar of chocolate a day” vs someone who had never eaten chocolate would create a similar difference in health results. Or a cake a day vs never eating cake. Or maybe a beef burger every day vs never eating meat?

“They found that out of 100,000 non-drinkers, 914 would develop an alcohol-related health problem such as cancer or suffer an injury.”

So the study found that if you drink no alcohol you’ve a 0.914% chance of developing an alcohol related problem (even though you didn’t ever drink alcohol in the first place). Drinking a unit every day increases your risk by 0.004%.

While there’s plenty of arguments against alcohol in excess, I don’t think this new evidence is convincing against drinking alcohol in moderation.

 

We have admittedly been very bad of defining moderation. To some that does mean drinking every day.

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This has always been interesting to me.  The arguments go back and forth.  There does seem to be some heart benefits of a slight amount of wine every day.  I think other food substances may be able to do the same thing.  I think that we like studies that “prove” what we believe about the Word of Wisdom.  There will be other articles claiming the benefits of alcohol or coffee.  I think you abstain from these because of your faith in God.  If there are health benefits, then that is a bonus, but not the only reason to keep the commandment.  Also, not a good reason to change what one consumes.  Science is trying to define issues like this, but it is far from proven for many, many issues, including alcohol.   

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