Alcohol is known to have stirred a lot of controversy over time and indeed it has been around for quite a while. In fact, surprisingly enough, the first recipe ever invented was that for beer. In one form or another, alcohol has been produced for more than 12,000 years and lies at the basis of some very interesting facts in a variety of fields, from politics and language to biology and even astronomy. Did you know, for instance, that 10,000 light-years away from Earth there is a cloud of ethanol that could produce 400 trillion trillion beers? Or that there is a set of guidelines on social drinking published by a journalist named William Greaves back in 1993? Or that according to recent studies, drinking is not a vice but rather a lifesaver?
That is right. A study conducted by psychologist Charles Holahan of the University of Texas in 2010 reveals that people who drink moderate amounts of alcohol on a regular basis have higher chances of living longer than those who choose not to. The subjects of the controlled study were a number of 1,824 individuals aged between 55 and 65 years with different socioeconomic statuses and different physical habits, among others.
At the end of a 20-year monitoring period, the results showed that abstainers from alcohol are the most exposed to the risk of premature death, followed by heavy drinkers and then by people who drink between one and three drinks daily. Surprisingly enough, the mortality rates reached 41 percent among moderate drinkers, 60 percent among heavy drinkers and, finally, 69 percent among abstainers from alcohol. In other words, it appears that the risks associated with abstinence from alcohol outweigh those for cancer, cirrhosis, addiction or poor judgment.
Depression, for instance, is one of the main risks associated with abstinence from alcohol. People may feel depressed after facing a drinking problem or because of various reasons related to physical health. Also, depression is often associated with social integration. Studies have showed that alcohol can be a great social binder. A study conducted on 38,000 subjects over a 2-week period in Norway, for instance, revealed that although non-drinkers tend to participate into a larger number of organized social events, they also tend to have fewer close friends. That is mainly because alcohol removes inhibitions and drunk people tend to confess to a lot of things they would not while sober, which leads to the development of tighter friendships. Also, staying dry while others are drinking often makes people feel marginalized.
However, researchers do not claim that people should necessarily be deflected from their convictions, but rather that they should be explained the benefits of drinking in different contexts. And of course, if they decide to take it up, it is important they remember that the keyword in this entire equation is always “moderate”.
Alcohol and health go hand in hand
Everyone knows at least some of the risks associated with heavy drinking, which vary from increased car accidents rates to addiction. However, people are less familiar with the benefits of moderate alcohol consumption as far as their health is concerned, both mental and physical.
For starters, not only does moderate drinking lower the risk for depression significantly, but it lowers that for heart, circulation and skeletomuscular disorders as well. In fact, depression and such disorders often go hand in hand since some of them can be quite difficult to cope with. Fibromyalgia or osteoarthritis would be just two of the numerous examples. Similarly, people suffering from chronic illnesses will often state that drinking is not healthy, but their conviction often reflects their suffering, the reality being another.
Alcohol has proved that it holds a lot of surprises on countless occasions so far. For instance, many people believe that alcohol consumption causes the body temperature to rise, when in fact it causes it to drop. Also, what many people do not know is that good health depends on the consumption of a total of 13 minerals and alcohol contains them all. Or that they do not need to worry about carbohydrates, fats or cholesterol if they consume distilled drinks for they contain none.
Studies have also demonstrated we eat fruit and vegetables, we also implicitly consume alcohol for most fruits and vegetables contain ethanol, which is the pure form of alcohol. This fact also lies at the basis of a pretty astounding theory elaborated by evolutionists, namely the so-called “drunken money hypothesis”. According to it, we have a genetic predisposition to alcohol consumption, which has its origins in the attraction primates have to ethanol, more precisely to ripe and overripe fruit. Moreover, we appear to produce alcohol 24/7, which may also be related to the beneficial effects it has on our health.
Indeed, there are numerous facts which demonstrate that alcohol consumption is healthy, if moderate, of course, despite what some people might think. And we are not referring to those who believe drinking champagne is dangerous just because a bottle of champagne contains 49 million bubbles which create three times more pressure than in car tires and therefore a popped cork can literally cause you to lose an eye.
Alcohol consumption by the law
Apart from many other achievements, the results of various studies on alcohol and alcohol consumption have also created a favorable context for people to control their behavior so as to avoid legal problems. However, it should be noted that some laws or even legal contexts can be quite difficult to understand for various reasons.
For example, we know that car accidents constitute one of the main causes of death associated with alcohol consumption. Thanks to the research conducted over the years, we also know that alcohol is absorbed faster if consumed in combination with carbonated drinks rather than in shots and that breathalyzers do not differentiate between alcoholic beverages. Strangely enough, research also reveals that you may face legal problems for drinking milk, as one glass can cause a 0.02 blow, which is not allowable in some states.
As they should, most laws reflect a clear intent to protect the citizens of a state from developing negative drinking habits. The US law serves as a good example in this sense, the minimum drinking age allowed being 21, the highest worldwide. It is also the strictest as far as alcohol consumption by teenagers is concerned. However, it is also in the United States where some of the most amusing laws can be found, which may remind some people that the national anthem of the US was written to a drinking song. For instance, the state of Texas does not allow the consumption of over three sips of beer in a standing position, just like the state of Alaska does not allow the provision of alcohol to moose and the state of Ohio does not allow the provision of alcohol to fishes.
Europe, on the other hand, appears to be more flexible when it comes to alcohol consumption, some states allowing alcoholic beverages to be served at high school cafeterias. Moreover, alcoholic drinks are available on the McDonald’s menu for parents to sip on while their children eat their fast food and drink their refreshments. This brings us back to the American Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms, which does not allow the association of the term “refreshing” with any alcoholic drink.
In the end, it is up to each country to decide on the best ways to protect its citizens against the uncontrolled consumption of alcohol and its negative effects at a national level, whereas it is up to each one of us to weigh the benefits of alcohol consumption against those of abstinence from alcohol at an individual level. However, the expert opinion is always worth taking into consideration and in this case, it states that alcohol consumption is beneficial to one’s health but only if moderate.