Tuesday, October 20, 2009


It is required that you use a little common sense. Not even a lot. Just some. I mean, you actually believed that alcohol was good for you? Because the news told you about a study? Sometimes I come close to despairing. Your mommy told you there was a Santa. Your teacher told you there was Evolution. Can't we just please do a little thinking for ourselves? Yes. Sure. Drinking poison, a toxin, is going to do wonders for you. It's so good for your heart. Mmm. That red wine is a miracle drug! Salute!

Or you could use your brain. Oh, it reduces cardiovascular disease in women? -- raises good cholesterol and moderates bloodsugar? That's so great! And it makes them sexually available too! So that's a win-win situation for me! Cuz those mood-swings and heart attacks while I'm sexing them, it gets old. And a daily glass of wine is linked to reduced dementia, boneloss, and lymphoma. That too must somehow be good for my love life. Demented, boneless, lymphomatic chicks -- they just don't do it for me.

But drinking any alcohol at all -- let alone "moderate" -- increases risk of getting cancers of the breast, liver, mouth, pharynx, larynx, esophagus, colon and rectum. The cardio benefits of wine are precisely matched by the increased risk of stroke -- it's good for the heart and bad for the brain. Drinking any amount over moderate, one glass daily for women, two for men, is powerfully linked to a plethora of problems. Disturbed sleep, impaired judgment, and slowed reflex reactions. Fetuses. For younger men, the risks of accident with even moderate drinking far outweigh the cardiovascular benefit.

Health benefits? They come largely from the antioxidants and anti-inflammatories that red wine and dark beers have, independent of alcohol content. Grape juice does the same thing. Or fruits and vegetables, and they don't deplete your B vitamins. But I am biased. I see alcoholic as a moral evil. Yes, it decreases social inhibitions, and I for one might benefit from that. On the other hand, the real me might show through, whatever that is, and it may be vicious.

The convivial lubricant and gaiety-maker has, in my observations, a perfect inverse correlation to the quality of the conversation. To those who are enjoying their moderate drink, their comments may seem profound or at least insightful. To me, they are even more obvious than usual. There is much to be commended in emotional availability and an unguarded tongue. But the same could be said for marijuana and LSD. When we are sick, we need drugs. Give strong drink to the dying. Alas, the judgment it would take to make the judgment call is impaired by the cure.

The ethanol molecule interacts with human biology in untold ways. Of course there are some benefits. But the cardio benefits that moderate drinking provides would not be needed at all, were it not for an toxic diet. To use one poison to mitigate against another poison is standard medical practice. Prevention at the level of root cause is not standard practice. So, sure, if you eat foolishly, drink wisely. There is a wisdom of sorts in this. But it's an ironic one.

In my middle age I have come more and more to the simple philosophy of, be happy. I think this requires that we be good. The mild tonic effect that alcohol can have is not toxic. The body can handle small doses of poison. If you know your particular genome down to the final allele, then you can do no wrong, or if you do, it is a choice. But you don't know your genetics. Live in fear? Feel deprived? No. Be happy. Be happy if you have a stroke, though, or get cancer of the rectum.

But as I say, I'm biased. Take what I say with a grain of salt. I'm very neurotic. But I have a good heart.



bob k. mando said...

yes. you are biased and i believe that alcohol is really, REALLY good for you.

Jack H said...

Your powerful reasoning would almost convince me, if such a thing were possible.

Drunkards in muddy icewater. I had thought there was no justice.