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The Truth We Won’t Admit: Drinking Is Healthy
September 2, 2014 8:21 AM   Subscribe

The health benefits of drinking. "The U.S. public health establishment buries overwhelming evidence that abstinence is a cause of heart disease and early death. People deserve to know that alcohol gives most of us a higher life expectancy—even if consumed above recommended limits."
posted by LarryC (171 comments total) 56 users marked this as a favorite

 
I AM GOING TO LIVE FOREVER

(Seriously tho, the US relationship to alcohol is weird, it really is all or nothing it seems)
posted by The Whelk at 8:24 AM on September 2 [18 favorites]


Cheers! This is news I can get behind! This confirms my long-held suspicion that the high life expectancy of those living around the Mediterranean is not just because of the olive oil.
posted by Didymium at 8:25 AM on September 2 [5 favorites]


Well that's a relief.

I'll have another scotch & soda, bartender. Thanks.
posted by freakazoid at 8:29 AM on September 2 [4 favorites]


Good news, everyone!
posted by entropicamericana at 8:30 AM on September 2 [19 favorites]


So the more you drink—up to two drinks a day for woman, and four for men—the less likely you are to die.

Citation?

This article is the citation.
posted by sammyo at 8:32 AM on September 2


The RSA review also noted: “In over half of nearly 45 reports since the early 1990s, significantly reduced risks of cognitive loss or dementia in moderate, nonbinge consumers of alcohol (wine, beer, liquor) have been observed.”
See, this is the problem - I drink to forget.

I've seen things, man.
posted by Pogo_Fuzzybutt at 8:34 AM on September 2 [8 favorites]


Also, Drinking Alcohol Doesn't Actually Kill Brain Cells.
posted by ChuckRamone at 8:35 AM on September 2 [5 favorites]


I find that my verbal recall takes a nosedive when I drink, so I'm not sold on the cognitive benefits. Strangely my syntax, spelling, punctuation and grammar all remain in tip-top shape, though.
posted by grumpybear69 at 8:37 AM on September 2 [2 favorites]


four for men

Woohoo! I actually get a decent buzz off 4!

we're talking pints, right?
posted by Hoopo at 8:37 AM on September 2 [3 favorites]


I like being alive, but I hate drinking (not for moral reasons but because of the taste and the calorie content). So articles like this make me sad.
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 8:40 AM on September 2 [11 favorites]


Hrm. My partner generally won't touch alcohol and also has heart disease in the family. We may need to work on this.
posted by annekate at 8:41 AM on September 2


It's MEDICINAL, like old fashioned liqueurs
posted by The Whelk at 8:42 AM on September 2 [6 favorites]


If we could someone remove the pleasurable effects of alcohol then we could get the puritans behind it.
posted by The Whelk at 8:42 AM on September 2 [23 favorites]


Drinking is not Healthy or Unhealthy. On a population level, it provides health benefits to some, and health detriments to others.

NIH’s reasoning, published in a 1972 memo, still pervades American thinking:

The encouragement of undertaking drinking with the implication of prevention of coronary heart disease would be scientifically misleading and socially undesirable in view of the major health problem of alcoholism that already exists in the country.


What the NIH is doing here is a cost-benefit analysis - saying that the benefit of preventing heart disease is not worth the cost of increased levels of alcoholism, should the NIH recommend drinking.

Is this sound? I don't know.

But it's certainly a lot more benign, and thoughtful, than "the truth we won't admit."
posted by entropone at 8:42 AM on September 2 [25 favorites]


OK, fine, but adding four beers a day to your diet is not exactly going to keep you slim, and if there's one thing I know from reading MeFi it's that I'm going to die because I'm fat. And good riddance to me. Also because I'm fat.
posted by The Bellman at 8:43 AM on September 2 [39 favorites]


> I like being alive, but I hate drinking. So articles like this make me sad.

You could always take up smoking!
posted by Poldo at 8:44 AM on September 2


I have chronic acid reflux and can't drink without severe stomach pain. So according to this article my choices are die of stomach cancer or die of a heart attack.
posted by Librarypt at 8:44 AM on September 2 [3 favorites]


Also, Drinking Alcohol Doesn't Actually Kill Brain Cells.

Dammit, I was counting on it killing the slow and weak ones.
posted by eriko at 8:46 AM on September 2 [16 favorites]


we're talking pints, right?

Standard drinks which contain 12 grams of ethanol in the United States. This is roughly equivalent to a 12oz beer so 3/4 of a pint. It's enough to get a 180 pound man to .10.

OK, fine, but adding four beers a day to your diet is not exactly going to keep you slim, and if there's one thing I know from reading MeFi it's that I'm going to die because I'm fat. And good riddance to me. Also because I'm fat.

Four beers a day would be an extra 600 calories. Four light beers, an extra 400. Alcohol is 7 calories per gram, much higher than 4 calories per gram of sugar.
posted by Talez at 8:46 AM on September 2 [2 favorites]


I like being alive, but I hate drinking (not for moral reasons but because of the taste and the calorie content). So articles like this make me sad.

Yeah, I'm in the same boat. But I'll have to check out the articles the mention and see if the science is compelling. My friends have always though me weird for not drinking. I guess I might have finally found a good reason why I should.
posted by Philosopher Dirtbike at 8:48 AM on September 2


So the more you drink—up to two drinks a day for woman, and four for men—the less likely you are to die.
Putting aside the quibble that no one is less likely to die than anyone else:

This claim from the article seems to be directly at odds with the chart of data shown in the article. The chart seems to show that the optimum number of drinks per day (for both men and women) is one.

While the chart also shows that (say) two drinks a day is better than no drinks a day, and that four a day for men is better than none a day for men, that's not the same as "the more you drink up to two (four for men), the better for you". Drinking two a day is (according to the chart) worse for you than drinking one a day (no matter whether you're a woman or a man).
posted by Flunkie at 8:48 AM on September 2 [13 favorites]


On a population level, it provides health benefits to some, and health detriments to others.

This is very true. For instance, those with the mutant ALDH2*2 gene, which causes "Asian flush syndrome," have increased risk for alcohol-related cancer because acetaldehyde is carcinogenic and it is not processed properly by people with this gene.

On a case-by-case basis, moderate drinking can be beneficial.
posted by ChuckRamone at 8:49 AM on September 2 [3 favorites]


Alcohol is 7 calories per gram, much higher than 4 calories per gram of sugar.

Yeah, but it's not metabolized the same way, right? I thought there was some research that showed it's a bit more complicated than ethanol being more calorie-dense than sugar. There are the extra (unfermented) sugars in beers and wines (and added sugars in flavored alcohols and cocktails), but I'm not sure it's quite as cut-and-dry as alcohol making you fat.
posted by backseatpilot at 8:50 AM on September 2 [1 favorite]


> Also, Drinking Alcohol Doesn't Actually Kill Brain Cells.
> Dammit, I was counting on it killing the slow and weak ones.


Yeah this was my working theory too. Too bad I don't actually have the time to sit down and drink even a beer these days. Maybe I should prioritize that. You know, for my health.
posted by RedOrGreen at 8:50 AM on September 2 [1 favorite]


(Seriously tho, the US relationship to alcohol is weird, it really is all or nothing it seems)

It is really bizarre, isn't it?

In Germany, having a beer at lunch was just a thing that you did. Here, if you have one at lunch, it's a good way to get fired from your job, or to have people whisper that you're probably an alcoholic. In France, I watched parents give their small children sips of wine at dinner. Do that in the US, someone is likely to call CPS on your ass. When the Monsters were younger, one of their friends wasn't allowed to come to our house any more when his parents learned that we stored wine in a rack in the dining room where children could see it.

I have wine with my dinner every night. Sometimes, we will have 2 or 3 bottles on a Friday or Saturday, staying up late at the table to nosh, drink wine, and catch up with each other. I've been told this means I'm dependent upon alcohol and should seek treatment by American friends. European friends just shrug.
posted by MissySedai at 8:52 AM on September 2 [88 favorites]


(United States statistics)

67% of adults drink sometime or another while 33% abstain.

One in twelve adults
(8.3%) suffer from alcohol abuse or dependence.

So, alcohol is a game of Russian Roulette with eight chambers, one bullet.

(Frankly, all of life is a game of Russian Roulette, bullet and chamber numbers vary.)
posted by dances_with_sneetches at 8:52 AM on September 2 [13 favorites]


I'd rather die early than be known amongst my friends as a drunken asshole.
posted by photoslob at 8:52 AM on September 2 [3 favorites]


These kinds of findings remind me of the changing views on salt and fat consumption. Used to be you're not supposed to eat any fat or salt! Now we know it's a lot more complex than that. But how does the government explain it to the general public?
posted by ChuckRamone at 8:53 AM on September 2 [1 favorite]


Even if I die early or later, I will hopefully die an optimist.
posted by Mr. Six at 8:54 AM on September 2


I like being alive, but I hate drinking

Do you look exactly like me but have a sexy evil goatee
posted by Greg Nog at 8:54 AM on September 2 [93 favorites]


Yeah, but it's not metabolized the same way, right? I thought there was some research that showed it's a bit more complicated than ethanol being more calorie-dense than sugar

Right, calories are just a measurement of how much energy is contained in something. A piece of plastic would have a lot of calories but if it passes straight through your system without being metabolized it's not the same thing as eating sugar that contains the same amount of energy.
posted by burnmp3s at 8:55 AM on September 2 [5 favorites]


four beers a day to your diet is not exactly going to keep you slim

I rewarded myself for an hour of picking up heavy things and putting them back down slowly a lot of times with a thick stout and chicken salad.
posted by The Whelk at 8:55 AM on September 2 [7 favorites]


Do you look exactly like me but have a sexy evil goatee

Nothing about me could be described with any of those words.
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 8:56 AM on September 2 [4 favorites]


Does the chicken float or sink?
posted by biffa at 8:57 AM on September 2 [3 favorites]


So according to this article my choices are die of stomach cancer or die of a heart attack.

If you live, you die, if you don't live, you die anyway.

Note that what is good for *the general population* almost certainly isn't good for certain individuals within that population. If you have an alcohol addiction, the BRAC1/2 gene disorder that leads to breast cancer, massive reflux issues with alcohol, liver disease that would be exacerbated by alcohol, etc., then it is *bad* to drink alcohol.

This is *no way* invalidates that for people not having those issues, it's better to drink moderately than not.

Helping 90% of the population is good thing. Hell, helping 10% of the population would be a good thing. The point of this article is that for a large fraction of the US population, not drinking moderately is actually bad for you. This is different that the "drinking is bad" meme that existed in the US since the Puritans came over, and this is also very different that the "Moderate drinking isn't bad" meme that has been going around recently.

Of course, as in all things, there are balances. You may hate the taste or the effects, in which case, you may extend your lifespan at the cost of quality of life. You have to choose which the the worst case -- shorter but happier vs. longer but less happy lifespan. Only you can make that choice. Even if cancer wasn't in play, I'd be loathe to drink daily if it caused reflux daily, because daily heartburn is a significant loss in quality of life.
posted by eriko at 8:57 AM on September 2 [6 favorites]


Peele is an interesting fellow, he has a lot of good things to say, but likewise I wouldn't rush to wholly embrace his mission, we really need person centered thinking wrt issues such as alcohol and other drug consumption.

I like me a good beer or other drink say 2 nights out of seven, but would never drink every night, even if it was just one - and for many they shouldn't drink, period, for any wide range of issues. So, while I think this article is mostly sane it also kinda feeds into alcohol-as-magic thinking.... Only now you should drink it goooooood for you.
posted by edgeways at 8:59 AM on September 2 [3 favorites]


I'd rather die early than be known amongst my friends as a drunken asshole.

Well, then, don't drink to excess. It's not that hard to have a drink and still not be a drunken asshole.
posted by MissySedai at 8:59 AM on September 2 [40 favorites]


I hate drinking (not for moral reasons but because of the taste and the calorie content).

This is why vodka and sodas were invented.
posted by octobersurprise at 9:00 AM on September 2


"I find that my verbal recall takes a nosedive when I drink"

I type so much faster. There is a speed ceiling on my typing where my brain is interposing to prevent typos and select the correct word and so forth, it tops out around 120 wpm. With two drinks in me, my fingers can just FLYYYYYY because there is no internal editor slowing things down by insisting on correctness (he's taken the night off drunk, just like a real editor!). There's more typo-correction afterwards, but wow can I get through transcriptions quickly!

"In France, I watched parents give their small children sips of wine at dinner. Do that in the US, someone is likely to call CPS on your ass."


Naw, I was raised this way in Chicago, and 45 states do allow underage drinking under some circumstances (typically, on private property and with parental supervision). I think, like so many things in a big country like the United States, it depends on local culture and socioeconomic status.
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 9:01 AM on September 2 [3 favorites]


The "two to four drinks" finding is from a meta-analysis by the Archives of Internal Medicine. The chart showing the greatest benefit being 1 drink is from a study by the American Cancer Society. These results do not completely agree, as you noted, but they both support the thesis of the article.
posted by Nothing at 9:01 AM on September 2 [2 favorites]


Four beers a day would be an extra 600 calories. Four light beers, an extra 400. Alcohol is 7 calories per gram, much higher than 4 calories per gram of sugar.

Bourbon, neat. 70 calories per ounce.

Bourbon, rocks. 70 calories per ounce.

If anyone has a better suggestion, I'd like to hear it.
posted by mikelieman at 9:05 AM on September 2 [8 favorites]


NIH’s reasoning, published in a 1972 memo, still pervades American thinking:
The encouragement of undertaking drinking with the implication of prevention of coronary heart disease would be scientifically misleading and socially undesirable in view of the major health problem of alcoholism that already exists in the country.
What the NIH is doing here is a cost-benefit analysis - saying that the benefit of preventing heart disease is not worth the cost of increased levels of alcoholism, should the NIH recommend drinking.

Is this sound? I don't know.

But it's certainly a lot more benign, and thoughtful, than "the truth we won't admit."


Might be worth keeping in mind that the Vietnam War and the draft were still active at the time.
posted by JoeXIII007 at 9:05 AM on September 2 [2 favorites]


These results do not completely agree

AIM is looking at total mortality, I wouldn't be surprise if ACS is looking at cancer related mortality only, and would thus show a difference between the two. If so, then *one* of the reasons for the lower mortality is the lower cancer mortality, but there are other mortalities that are lowered as well.

Having not read the studies, though, that's a guess.
posted by eriko at 9:05 AM on September 2 [1 favorite]


I've actually brought this up with some doctors, including a cardiologist -- I'm a non-drinker with a number heart-disease related risk factors who's started to think more about them as I've approached middle age, and I've heard for a long time about the potential benefits of the glass of wine with dinner.

The response I've gotten each time was mixed at best, basically "sure, it might help a bit, but of all the things you could do, don't start this for your health, it's less likely to have a big benefit, could have some negative effects, you're better off with diet and exercise, get outside more and cut down on the eggs and cheeseburgers, OK?"

Also:
"Other than drunk-driving stories, we rarely see headlines about the harm caused by alcohol. Dr. Rehm comments, 'I do not know why a beneficial link would be more important than a detrimental link, if the beneficial link overall is about one tenth of the detrimental link. We have counted how many studies are reported in the press, and there are many more reports on the beneficial link than on the detrimental link between alcohol and health.' "
posted by weston at 9:06 AM on September 2 [4 favorites]


I'm glad this debate is finally settled!
posted by MoonOrb at 9:07 AM on September 2


Instead of four beers, have some whiskey. No carbs! Quicker buzz!

(on preview, jinx mikelieman)

I actually only have a drink maybe once-twice a week, I guess I need to up my game. Heart disease (and tee-totallers!) all over my family.

I have often wished I could have a beer at lunch without worrying about being spotted by a co-worker. Puritanical attitudes run deep though.
posted by emjaybee at 9:11 AM on September 2


Naw, I was raised this way in Chicago, and 45 states do allow underage drinking under some circumstances (typically, on private property and with parental supervision). I think, like so many things in a big country like the United States, it depends on local culture and socioeconomic status.

I was raised the same way right here in Ohio, one of the states that allow children to consume when supervised by a parent. In the state of Ohio, it doesn't matter whether you're on public or private property. If your parent or legal guardian hands you a drink and remains physically with you while you consume it, it's legal.

Didn't stop CPS from showing up at my door after someone took offense to me handing Elder Monster my wine glass at a neighborhood steak house. Even being shown the law from multiple sources didn't dissuade the social worker from demanding I agree to parenting classes. (I didn't. I had an attorney send a nastygram.) People who are bent on impressing their "morals" onto others generally don't check the law before they stick their noses in.
posted by MissySedai at 9:11 AM on September 2 [13 favorites]


There is a massive wealth effect going on in studies like this. Constant moderate drinkers in the US tend to be middle class, college educated and have better access to healthcare than most others.

Both heavy drinkers and teetotalers are poorer than average in the US.

Once you clean out the wealth effects its basically a coin flip. So essentially - if you enjoy a drink in moderation go for it, if you are teetotal that's cool too.
posted by JPD at 9:13 AM on September 2 [23 favorites]


I didn't take a single drink until I was 22, entirely due to insane fear-mongering in the US (c.f. drinking kills brain cells, and other stupid myths).

It's really quite ridiculous.
posted by odinsdream at 9:13 AM on September 2 [2 favorites]


(considers starting the Mefi Freelancer Noontime Alcohol Appreciation Society)
posted by The Whelk at 9:14 AM on September 2 [24 favorites]


Bourbon, neat. 70 calories per ounce.

I wonder about the hit to the liver from neat liquor, even drunk at the same rate as beer. I wonder about this even as I drink the liquor.
posted by not_that_epiphanius at 9:16 AM on September 2 [3 favorites]


An epidemiologist friend (head of his department at a major research university) told me, half in jest, that he suspects almost all epidemiologic studies, except the ones that show a benefit to alcohol consumption. I concur.
posted by Mental Wimp at 9:17 AM on September 2 [3 favorites]


(I remember seeing a cartoon from the "moderation" wing of the Temperance movement, showing the scale and quality of alcohol that could be enjoyed before it started to lead to physical and moral decay "small beer" to "wine with food" and "occasional cordial" - actually seemed like more than we would conisder "moderate" today was all fine BUT the other end was all straight up overproof liquor and moonshine on no food or water and my take away from that and other period sources wasn't that the temperance people where nuts but that holy crap people where drinking straight whiskey on food all day everyday starting at age 12 how the hell did anyone survive long enough to reproduce.)
posted by The Whelk at 9:19 AM on September 2 [3 favorites]


"The liver is evil and must be punished."
posted by Mental Wimp at 9:19 AM on September 2


If anyone has a better suggestion, I'd like to hear it.

A nicely aged Laphroaig or a small mug of Château Margaux!
posted by sammyo at 9:19 AM on September 2 [1 favorite]


The American Cancer Society study is all cause mortality. They do break out heart disease, but that aspect of the chart is not specifically discussed in the article. But it's not surprising that there would be differences in the details like how many daily drinks result in the lowest mortality.

The article does address the criticism that the difference is due to class differences. Perhaps not thoroughly, but it does address it.
posted by Nothing at 9:22 AM on September 2


If we could someone remove the pleasurable effects of alcohol then we could get the puritans behind it.

Iceland tried it, and what they came up with was Brennivín. For some time it was the only alcohol you could legally get in Iceland, supposedly because the flavor is so off-putting you have to be really committed to get drunk off it. And the vicious hangover is probably supposed to encourage repentance, or something.

I can tell you firsthand that in reality you don't have to be that committed. Or at least not any more committed than the average 19-year-old American on a layover from the US to Europe.
posted by Kadin2048 at 9:23 AM on September 2 [2 favorites]


The article does address the criticism that the difference is due to class differences. Perhaps not thoroughly, but it does address it

They address it through a discussion of wine vs. other alcohols tho.

I am a regular moderate drinker, so I'm not talking my own book here.
posted by JPD at 9:26 AM on September 2


*drinks to that. and this. and the other thing.*
posted by jonmc at 9:27 AM on September 2 [5 favorites]


Who's this 'we' that won't admit it? Me and my friends admit it loudly, often to annoyed passers-by.
posted by lumpenprole at 9:28 AM on September 2


the Mefi Freelancer Noontime Alcohol Appreciation Society

I was planning a productive weekend, had two mimosas with brunch on Saturday, and then slept the rest of the day. I am not ready for your Society.
posted by moonmilk at 9:33 AM on September 2 [6 favorites]


One in twelve adults (8.3%) suffer from alcohol abuse or dependence.

I wouldn't exactly say I'm suffering, Bob.

It's really sort of amazing how strong the prohibitionist efforts are in the US given the sizable majority that drinkers hold. It doesn't help that so many folks in the booze business are willing to use those "useful idiots" to help them hold onto a market share via anti-competitive means.
posted by phearlez at 9:35 AM on September 2 [6 favorites]


Eh, still not worth it. I've never been curious or interested in any aspect of alcohol, so I've never had any. The only thing I drink is water. That won't change. 45, and okay so far…
posted by scamper at 9:37 AM on September 2


Actually the FPP way, way, way overstates the case. It is simply not true that:

In fact, the evidence that abstinence from alcohol is a cause of heart disease and early death is irrefutable—yet this is almost unmentionable in the United States.

It is very refutable. Not just heavy drinking, but any drinking - the preliminary consensus seemed to be a J curve - that light to moderate drinking was heart-healthy.

Now, the latest and very careful metastudy that took into account preceding studies has concluded that any amount of drinking is not heart-healthy, and that includes light drinking:

A Little Alcohol May Not Be Good for Your Heart After All

"FRIDAY, July 11, 2014 (HealthDay News) -- A new study challenges the widely held belief that light drinking of alcohol may be good for your heart.

Researchers analyzed more than 50 studies that examined drinking habits and heart health in more than 260,000 people.
"

"The results suggest that cutting alcohol intake -- even for light-to-moderate drinkers -- benefits heart health, according to the authors of the study in the July 11 issue of the BMJ.

"While the damaging effects of heavy alcohol consumption on the heart are well-established, for the last few decades we've often heard reports of the potential health benefits of light-to-moderate drinking," study senior author Juan Casas, a professor of epidemiology at the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine, said in a university news release. "However, we now have evidence that some of these studies suffer from limitations that may affect the validity of their findings.

"In our study, we saw a link between a reduced consumption of alcohol and improved cardiovascular health, regardless of whether the individual was a light, moderate or heavy drinker," Casas said. The study could only show an association between the two, however, it couldn't prove cause-and-effect."


Now this study is certainly not the last word on this issue, but it is a note of caution and most certainly it completely refutes the idea that health benefits of alcohol are "irrefutable".

It may still transpire that there is a J curve, but it is a very complex issue, and if the benefits were truly "overwhelming", we'd have a very easy time of proving it. After all, we have overwhelming evidence that smoking is unhealthy - and no studies showing otherwise. That is irrefutable. In the case of alcohol, far from anything as clear. The best one can say is: still unclear.

Personally, I drink moderately, mostly wine, rarely beer or liquor, and I enjoy it, but I fully admit that it may be deleterious to my health.

It's important not to overstate the case either way. This guy is overstating by a huge margin.
posted by VikingSword at 9:39 AM on September 2 [19 favorites]


It's funny how even in this thead we see the weird alcohol hangup some Americans have. Substances, (whether alcohol or "harder" drugs) seem to be the one area you can still see liberals uses black and white puritian logic.

I remember a while back there was a AskMe thread, that was something like this: I've have recently started to get terrible headaches whenever I drink alcohol. The doctor pretty much said stop drinking without really looking into it. Should I get a second opinion? I would like to know if this is treatable."

One of the early responses was along the lines of "Good heavens, do you really need to drink to have fun?"

I feel like I'm from a different country than these people.
posted by spaltavian at 9:40 AM on September 2 [16 favorites]


spaltavian: Substances, (whether alcohol or "harder" drugs) seem to be the one area you can still see liberals uses black and white puritian logic.

Wait, where are you getting the idea that the hang-ups in this thread are coming from a liberal perspective?
posted by tonycpsu at 9:41 AM on September 2 [1 favorite]


I should have made that transition clearer, but there I was speaking about the wider world rather than just this thread.
posted by spaltavian at 9:44 AM on September 2


I have chronic acid reflux and can't drink without severe stomach pain. So according to this article my choices are die of stomach cancer or die of a heart attack.

Look on the bright side—there's always esophogeal cancer!
posted by goethean at 9:45 AM on September 2 [7 favorites]


It's worth mentioning that Stanton Peele isn't really aiming his message at people who have no problem drinking moderately, he's aiming it at chronic alcohol abusers; he's been flogging his alternative to twelve-stepping for some decades now.
posted by Halloween Jack at 9:46 AM on September 2 [1 favorite]


Drinking pretty much anything alcoholic these days makes me so incredibly horrendously sick that dying early sounds like a treat in comparison. Wine or champagne is an instantaneous migraine, before I'm even halfway done with the glass. Beer makes me gassy and nauseated. Any other hard liquor combines the best of both worlds with migraines and nausea, plus agonizing reflux that can last for days at a time and defeats all appropriate medications.

Really though I am pretty sure that I have had enough of alcohol for 2, maybe 3 entire lifetimes, so I'm not terribly bothered about it.
posted by elizardbits at 9:46 AM on September 2 [5 favorites]


For anyone wanting to read the study here is the link:

Association between alcohol and cardiovascular disease: Mendelian randomisation analysis based on individual participant data

I encourage people to read it, because it's a very, very strong study.
posted by VikingSword at 9:49 AM on September 2 [9 favorites]


That study is also mentioned in the FPP article, VikingSword. It's dismissed a bit too handily for my tastes, but I agree that (from the NIH link) "those with a form of a gene tied to lower levels of drinking generally had healthier hearts" is rather less compelling that studies that look directly at consumption. Also, the J curve is discussed as well.

I feel like I'm defending the article too much now, which is not my intention, so I'll back off.
posted by Nothing at 9:55 AM on September 2


Substances, (whether alcohol or "harder" drugs) seem to be the one area you can still see liberals uses black and white puritian logic.

Please don't confuse people who abstain from these things with "puritans"; for many, the problem was decidedly not that we didn't like getting fucked up.
posted by thelonius at 9:57 AM on September 2 [6 favorites]


Why yes, I would love a gin and tonic.
posted by thivaia at 9:58 AM on September 2 [3 favorites]


spaltavian: I should have made that transition clearer, but there I was speaking about the wider world rather than just this thread.

I still think tying this to political ideology is very misguided. Of course one can find individual liberals who are hung up in a "Puritan" way about alcohol, but a pretty rigorous study shows that there's a positive correlation between liberal political ideology and alcohol use, "even after controlling for economic, demographic, and geographic differences across states."
posted by tonycpsu at 9:58 AM on September 2


And, yeah, a lot of people have very valid reasons for not drinking that have nothing to do with Puritanism, including not being able to do it in moderation, or just not liking it. Let's not paint with such a broad brush.
posted by tonycpsu at 10:01 AM on September 2 [7 favorites]


The chart seems to show that the optimum number of drinks per day (for both men and women) is one.

Slightly less than two.
posted by Sys Rq at 10:01 AM on September 2 [4 favorites]


I have wine with my dinner every night. Sometimes, we will have 2 or 3 bottles on a Friday or Saturday, staying up late at the table to nosh, drink wine, and catch up with each other. I've been told this means I'm dependent upon alcohol and should seek treatment by American friends. European friends just shrug.

And don't forget, even if you don't display any signs of alcoholism, you are then just a high-functioning alcoholic: someone who is doing great at life in spite of drinking more than the approved of amount. So they get you coming and going.
posted by mrbigmuscles at 10:03 AM on September 2 [11 favorites]


Unfortunately, no amount of stats can predict the individual. And even the most careful meta-analysis isn't going to convince health policy if any chance of escapable harm occurs. At least in this political climate.
posted by clvrmnky at 10:06 AM on September 2


Alas, some of us have a problem with moderation. I'm sure it doesn't help that I live in Wisconsin. That said, I can have a few here and there, but if I dare to make it a regular occurrence (i.e. a couple a day) it easily devolves into more than just "a couple a day". Also - is this the same regardless of the type of alcohol? I apologize for not reading the article, but it's my impression that it goes something like: Red Wine->Dark Beers->White Wine/Light Beers->Liquor/Mixed Drinks.

Am I wrong? Some of us like Vodka just a little too much, and beer tastes like shit.
posted by symbioid at 10:08 AM on September 2 [1 favorite]


"those with a form of a gene tied to lower levels of drinking generally had healthier hearts" is rather less compelling that studies that look directly at consumption.

You know, that's funny, because just the opposite may be said. After all, the gold standard is a randomized trial, which for obvious reasons is not going to happen. What we've had therefore were much lower quality observational studies, and this gene study is a big improvement over that. As stated in the intro:

"In the absence of a viable randomised trial to confirm or refute the cardioprotective effect of light to moderate alcohol consumption, an alternative approach is to use a genetic variant that serves as a proxy for alcohol consumption. This approach, known as Mendelian randomisation, avoids some of the key limitations of observational studies, since allocation of genetic variants is random with regard to potential confounders, and genotype is not modified by disease (abolishing reverse causality).14 15"

To dismiss this as "highly indirect" is comical, when he rests his case on the granddaddy of "highly indirect" observational epid. studies.

So no, I find it far more compelling than the other studies. Is it the last word? I doubt it, but I what I do not doubt is that the guy is full of shit when he says "irrefutable" evidence exists for his case. It's highly refutable, and has been refuted pretty convincingly. Still awaiting more results as science grinds on, which of course does not preclude the grinding of axes by interested parties such as this guy.
posted by VikingSword at 10:10 AM on September 2 [3 favorites]


One of the worst things about alcohol is drunk driving. Even more so, he lack of serious penalties and attempts to really fucking enforce rules about it with offenders, ESPECIALLY repeat offenders, in our fair state. My sister was killed by a drunk driver. An old classmate died this past week, he had an OWI in December, and while he wasn't driving, he did die at 2AM so if he was riding home with a drunk friend from a bar, well, that's another person I've known lost to that mix.

I wish we'd worry less about abstinence and more about proper mental health care for those who need it, and harsh penalties for drinking and driving.
posted by symbioid at 10:12 AM on September 2 [7 favorites]


FWIW, I have been a consistent 2-3 drinks a day for years, with more some weekends. This means beer or a whisky of some sort every single day, right after work and after dinner. Maybe one more in front of the TV.

If some meta-analysis suggests this is golden, I'll believe it. It's not like I'm going to change my behaviour.
posted by clvrmnky at 10:14 AM on September 2 [3 favorites]


It's funny how even in this thead we see the weird alcohol hangup some Americans have.... One of the early responses was along the lines of "Good heavens, do you really need to drink to have fun?"

I feel like I'm from a different country than these people.


Seriously, if you're categorizing the idea that someone could have fun without drinking as a "weird alcohol hangup", that really says some things about you. Maybe you should think about that for a few minutes.

If some meta-analysis suggests [that the thing I'm already doing] is golden, I'll believe it. It's not like I'm going to change my behaviour.

This is really the core of the issue for most people (in this thread, obviously, and also elsewhere). They're not nearly as interested in the data as they are in a headline that they don't have to work to understand that pats them on the back for what they're already doing or encourages them to do more of the things they want to do.
posted by IAmUnaware at 10:21 AM on September 2 [6 favorites]


As a complete non-scientist, here is my (possibly very ignorant) question: What are the odds that the same gene that is associated with lower drinking levels also produces healthier hearts, not because alcohol consumption is lowered but because that genetic variant itself has some direct effect on heart health?
posted by Pater Aletheias at 10:22 AM on September 2 [1 favorite]


thelonius :Substances, (whether alcohol or "harder" drugs) seem to be the one area you can still see liberals uses black and white puritian logic.

Please don't confuse people who abstain from these things with "puritans";


I didn't. I was talking specifically about a type of logic I see people in dealing with these that I called Puritan, not people who just don't drink. I gave to clear examples in my comment that had nothing to do with those people's particular decision to drink or not to drink. I don't need any reminder that people choose to drink or not for many different reasons, as I am a human on the planet Earth.

tonycpsu
: I still think tying this to political ideology is very misguided. Of course one can find individual liberals who are hung up in a "Puritan" way about alcohol, but a pretty rigorous study shows that there's a positive correlation between liberal political ideology and alcohol use, "even after controlling for economic, demographic, and geographic differences across states."

You read my comment backgrounds. I didn't say "liberals do this" I said "one area you can still see liberals". As in, some liberals who would never employ weird judgemental black and white thinking about other so-called moral issues still use it with substances. Implied in that comment is that it's something I would more readily expect from a conservative.
posted by spaltavian at 10:24 AM on September 2 [6 favorites]


IAmUnaware: Seriously, if you're categorizing the idea that someone could have fun without drinking as a "weird alcohol hangup", that really says some things about you. Maybe you should think about that for a few minutes.

Jesus. This isn't even close to what I said. Seriously, re-read my comment. Where the hell did you get that from?

It was someone else making a judemental statement about someone else wondering if they should get medical advice with "do you really need alcohol for fun".
posted by spaltavian at 10:25 AM on September 2 [12 favorites]


Nobody needs to drink to have fun, but drinking sure does make most things more fun.
posted by mrbigmuscles at 10:27 AM on September 2 [2 favorites]


Ok, but if you drink and operate heavy machinery (read: a car) it will have a significant negative impact on MY expected lifespan as a cyclist.

So please, as with any other medicine you might use, be safe!
posted by sibilatorix at 10:34 AM on September 2 [1 favorite]


It sure makes mefi comments more fun!
posted by symbioid at 10:36 AM on September 2 [4 favorites]


Look on the bright side—there's always esophogeal cancer!

Yay?
posted by Librarypt at 10:36 AM on September 2


spaltavian: You read my comment backgrounds. I didn't say "liberals do this" I said "one area you can still see liberals"

OK, if the thrust of your comment was "hey, outliers exist!", then that's not a very interesting comment, but it's also not a factually incorrect one.
posted by tonycpsu at 10:36 AM on September 2


> One in twelve adults (8.3%) suffer from alcohol abuse or dependence.

This sounds about right, based on my life experiences. A significant number of my friends have had to quit altogether, a couple more probably should, and a few of my relatives are or were alcoholics to varying degrees. Me, I'm lucky, especially considering my family history and how much I drank in university and throughout my 20s.
posted by The Card Cheat at 10:38 AM on September 2 [2 favorites]


I'm guessing a beer at lunch is much better for you than a sodapop.
posted by chavenet at 10:38 AM on September 2 [4 favorites]


Drinking also makes me handsome and delightful to be around, so there's that.
posted by BitterOldPunk at 10:38 AM on September 2 [20 favorites]


I WILL NOW GIVE GENERIC ONE-DIMENSIONAL ADVICE BASED ON MY OWN PERSONAL EXPERIENCE OF A SUBSTANCE WITH [DRUGLIKE/NUTRATIVE/SACRAMENTAL/BEVERAGE/TOXIC] ] PROPERTIES FOR A COMPLEX MULTIFACTORIAL [BIOCHEMICAL/SOCIETAL/ENVIRONMENTAL/GENETIC/CULTURALLY] DETERMINED INTERACTION WITH SAID SUBSTANCE WHICH CAN EITHER BE POSITIVE OR NEGATIVE DEPENDING ON SAID CONDITIONS.

I AM SUPERIOR!
posted by lalochezia at 10:41 AM on September 2 [12 favorites]


As a complete non-scientist, here is my (possibly very ignorant) question: What are the odds that the same gene that is associated with lower drinking levels also produces healthier hearts, not because alcohol consumption is lowered but because that genetic variant itself has some direct effect on heart health?

That's addressed (genotype is not modified by disease (abolishing reverse causality).14 15) in examining those with the gene variant being divided into drinking and non-drinking groups and seeing if CVD outcomes in the non-drinking group differ from those non-drinkers who don't have the gene variant. There is no difference.

"Rs1229984 A-allele carriage showed reduced odds of coronary heart disease (odds ratio 0.90 (95% confidence interval 0.84 to 0.96, I2=17%)) (fig 2⇓ and fig S12 of appendix). In studies with ≥1000 coronary heart disease events (four studies with 8374 coronary heart disease events), the odds ratio for coronary heart disease was 0.81 (0.72 to 0.91, I2=0%) (table S10). When analysis was restricted to non-drinkers the association was null (odds ratio 0.98 (0.88 to 1.10)), while among drinkers (>0 units/week alcohol), carriers of the rs1229984 A-allele had reduced odds of coronary heart disease (odds ratio 0.86 (0.78 to 0.94)). This is consistent with the assumption that the associations ascribed to the ADH1B variant are mainly due to alcohol consumption. Further subdivision of the drinkers category into light (>0 to <7 units/week), moderate (≥7 to <21 units/week), and heavy (≥21 units/week) showed the same protective effect of the variant across all alcohol categories (P value for heterogeneity=0.83; fig 2⇓), suggesting that there was no difference between rs1229984 A-allele carriers and non-carriers in coronary heart disease risk across alcohol consumption levels among individuals who drank."
posted by VikingSword at 10:44 AM on September 2 [3 favorites]


I always have a drink with dinner. My wife usually does as well, and so do most of our friends (30 to 40ish middle class Canadians). No-one bats an eye at it. One just generally drinks wine or beer with dinner. What are the other options? Milk? (bleh.) Soda? (too sickly sweet.) Water? (sure, but what a boring life that would be.) Juice, tea, or coffee? (With dinner? Really?)

After his heart attack 20 years ago, my dad was told by his doctor to start having a drink every night, advice which he gladly embraced.
posted by fimbulvetr at 10:49 AM on September 2 [1 favorite]


Damn.

I don't like the taste of alcohol, have never particularly enjoyed the way it made me feel, and abhor its aftereffects. Nobody in my family has been fond of alcohol for the same reasons. It's not that we're puritans or anything; it's like we're allergic to the stuff. Heaven knows I've tried iterations from good wine to expensive spirits.

And yes, there is heart disease in the family.

I love a nice sticky bud though. Sigh.
posted by kinnakeet at 10:54 AM on September 2 [4 favorites]


I drink, therefore I am.
posted by Chuffy at 10:54 AM on September 2


If anybody feels up to explaining the appeal of drinking to me, I'm all ears. My hunch is that the health benefits—if any—are a trivial factor.
posted by Flexagon at 11:10 AM on September 2


If anybody feels up to explaining the appeal of drinking to me, I'm all ears. My hunch is that the health benefits—if any—are a trivial factor.

Did you just completely ignore the entire thread and article?
posted by odinsdream at 11:17 AM on September 2 [5 favorites]


If anybody feels up to explaining the appeal of drinking to me, I'm all ears.

Easy.

It tastes good and smells good. It lowers inhibitions. It's a social lubricant and icebreaker. It makes jokes funnier, stories more entertaining, dancing wilder, music better, boors more bearable, dares more do-able, bluffs more callable, and people more attractive.

And doesn't that all sound healthy to boot?
posted by mrbigmuscles at 11:19 AM on September 2 [29 favorites]


Two words:
Liquid Courage
posted by Twain Device at 11:21 AM on September 2 [2 favorites]


It's weird that there seems to be an assumption by many non-drinkers in this thread that the goal of drinking is inebriation. I guess that's true if you're an average 21 year old college student but it has not been true for me for years, and I would guess that's the same for most (or at least many) grown adults. My dad was an alcoholic and my husband is in recovery; I'm not interested in getting drunk. But you'll never convince me red wine isn't delicious, and that having a glass or two while I cook dinner while streaming Buffy the Vampire Slayer on the kitchen computer isn't a tremendous way to spend an hour or so. If my heart benefits from this routine, even better! However, I have to say I'm not too worried that my husband's abstention means he's going to die earlier than he would if he weren't a teetotaler. And I'm sure there will be some study coming out any day I can use to confirm that position.
posted by something something at 11:21 AM on September 2 [17 favorites]


It also improves second language fluency in just about everyone I know.
posted by elizardbits at 11:22 AM on September 2 [24 favorites]


If anybody feels up to explaining the appeal of drinking to me, I'm all ears.

To many alcoholic beverages are simply an enjoyable substance that one drinks. There is no more to it than that. To ask your question is akin to asking "what is appeal of eating chocolate?" There is no answer other than it is enjoyable. In the same spirit, comments regarding the requirement for alcohol to have fun are similarly completely besides the point. Of course you can have just as much fun whether you drink or not. It is simply a personal choice.
posted by fimbulvetr at 11:23 AM on September 2 [6 favorites]


But you'll never convince me red wine isn't delicious

But why? I mean, I wholly accept that you find it tasty and and wonderful and worth trying new ones again and again for even more wonderfulness, but for me it is revolting battery acid that I would rather die of thirst than consume. The two opposing beliefs can comfortably exist side by side, because that is the nature of personal taste.
posted by elizardbits at 11:23 AM on September 2 [5 favorites]


I think I agree with you, right? I don't know. Olives are gross, I can tell you that.
posted by something something at 11:24 AM on September 2 [2 favorites]


Olives are delicious and made only more delicious by proximity to gin.
posted by en forme de poire at 11:26 AM on September 2 [10 favorites]


Green ones are a cruel trick but the little black ones? Please everyone hate them, they are terrible and you should never ever eat them and also you should give them all to me for proper disposal.
posted by elizardbits at 11:27 AM on September 2 [2 favorites]


BRB, emailing article to wife, mom, brother...
posted by Splunge at 11:32 AM on September 2 [2 favorites]


Of course you can have just as much fun whether you drink or not. It is simply a personal choice.

I think this sort of thing comes from the unfortunate fact that for many people who have decided not to drink anymore, or ever at all, their choice of not drinking becomes this awkward social thing that must be dealt with time and time again by other people who literally cannot comprehend that it is perfectly easy and fine and acceptable to choose not to drink when everyone else is drinking, and that it is not in any way passing judgment on those who do choose to drink, or being incapable of having fun, or whatever weird thing is suddenly ascribed to you for choosing to avoid alcohol. Seriously you would not believe the amount of shit you get when you're like "i just want some fizzy water, thanks!". I find that reminding people that I will still get a round in is helpful, but honestly the amount of outraged argument you can get is astonishing.

So basically the whole dismissive shitty comments thing is often in response to many other dismissive shitty comments from the other side, and in conclusion everything remains terrible.
posted by elizardbits at 11:33 AM on September 2 [23 favorites]


Individuals with a genetic variant associated with non-drinking and lower alcohol consumption had a more favourable cardiovascular profile and a reduced risk of coronary heart disease than those without the genetic variant. This suggests that reduction of alcohol consumption, even for light to moderate drinkers, is beneficial for cardiovascular health.

This study definitely strongly supports the first assertion, that the polymorphism is associated with lower cardiovascular risk. It by no means suggests the second assertion. Because those with a factor causally associated with lower drinking rates have better outcomes than those without that factor does not imply that lower drinking rates are causally associated with better outcomes. What they have shown is that controlling for alcohol intake, those with the SNP have lower risk. In fact, they have the data that could directly answer the question about the effect of alcohol consumption on risk but neglect to use it in their conclusion: comparisons within genotype strata. I don't know how they were allowed to get away with that second assertion.

Outside of their assertions, note that they only address disease occurrence, not mortality, which is the outcome addressed in the FPP.

That's addressed (genotype is not modified by disease (abolishing reverse causality).14 15) in examining those with the gene variant being divided into drinking and non-drinking groups and seeing if CVD outcomes in the non-drinking group differ from those non-drinkers who don't have the gene variant. There is no difference.

Unfortunately, no, that doesn't address the issue. All it shows is that for those who are abstemious, there is no statistically significant difference in risk, but the sample size is much smaller since it is confined to that phenotype, so the power to detect a difference is much smaller. In fact, figure 1 pretty much proves that there is an interaction between genotype and alcohol consumption, wherein the genotype is more protective in heavy drinkers (e.g., OR = 0.89 for hypertension) than in moderate or non-drinkers. This is confirmed by their assertion that the SNP is protective in heavy drinkers (OR = 0.86 [0.78 to 0.94]) but not in abstainers. What they need to do is show that within gene strata there is no difference in risk by alcohol consumption level, which they never do. I wish they would have done this analysis. It's odd that they didn't, because it would directly address their ultimate conclusion. It would be interesting.
posted by Mental Wimp at 11:37 AM on September 2 [1 favorite]


I'm not saying olives are evil per se, but if I somehow found the first person who decided to put them on pizza I would call the Hague immediately.
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 11:44 AM on September 2 [2 favorites]


I've found the best way to keep people from eating my pizza is to put both olives and mushrooms on it. I know exactly one person who will eat both (that I'm aware of)
posted by Twain Device at 11:45 AM on September 2


WKRP and Dr. Johnny Fever proved this hypothesis decades ago.
posted by Muddler at 11:47 AM on September 2 [2 favorites]


"Further subdivision of the drinkers category into light (>0 to <7 units/week), moderate (≥7 to <21 units/week), and heavy (≥21 units/week) showed the same protective effect of the variant across all alcohol categories (P value for heterogeneity=0.83; fig 2⇓), suggesting that there was no difference between rs1229984 A-allele carriers and non-carriers in coronary heart disease risk across alcohol consumption levels among individuals who drank."

[...]

"For the cardiovascular traits that showed association on overall with the rs1229984 A-allele, null or substantially reduced associations were observed in non-drinkers and more pronounced associations in heavy drinkers when compared with light to moderate drinkers. This is as expected under the assumption that the effect of this genetic variant is only explained by exposure to alcohol."

Of course, it must be stressed that the ethnic issue might be a confounder, so we can't forget about that.
posted by VikingSword at 11:50 AM on September 2


It also makes me more than a little uncomfortable that their "randomization" SNP is not really that random -- I mean, it's in one of the main genes that is involved in the metabolism of alcohol to the toxic intermediate acetaldehyde. If carriers of this R47H version actually consume markedly less alcohol, it seems even more likely that this effect is in fact mediated by a difference in the function or kinetics of this gene. Which makes it very hard to dismiss out of hand the hypothesis that this SNP might achieve health benefits specifically in drinkers by affecting alcohol metabolism, in addition to or even instead of affecting the amount consumed.
posted by en forme de poire at 11:56 AM on September 2


Greg Nog: "Do you look exactly like me but have a sexy evil goatee"

Considering your facial hair, wouldn't he be the clean-shaven one?
posted by notsnot at 11:56 AM on September 2



I wonder about the hit to the liver from neat liquor, even drunk at the same rate as beer. I wonder about this even as I drink the liquor.


77 and been imbibing two Drambuies a day for forty years. But I always drink a six/eight ounce glass of water beforehand.

Also manage to play three sets of tennis three days a week. Also at 1 pm in Fort Myers. 93/95 degrees actual and over 102 taking humidity into account. LOL. I know. Stupid. But been doing it for 26 years. I'd like a quick death on the tennis court. Wife does the same thing only four days a week in the am. But she's a 75 year old baby.
posted by notreally at 12:06 PM on September 2 [15 favorites]


Geez. Pot's good for you, alcolhol's good for you.

Just how prescient was "Sleeper"?

posted by mmrtnt at 12:07 PM on September 2 [4 favorites]


Olives are gross, I can tell you that.

ONLY BECAUSE YOU ARE TOO STUPID TO TRY THE RIGHT OLIVES YOU DESPICABLE PERSON

...is what someone always says when I say I dislike olives.
posted by mullacc at 12:13 PM on September 2 [2 favorites]


If anybody feels up to explaining the appeal of drinking to me, I'm all ears.

There's your problem right there. Drinks go in your mouth not your ears!
posted by srboisvert at 12:13 PM on September 2 [11 favorites]


Correlation ≠ Causation

Perhaps the drinkers are more social people and those social connections lead to healthier lives?
I don't think you can infer from this that just getting people to drink more will automatically make them healthier.
posted by Lanark at 12:15 PM on September 2 [1 favorite]


I don't know whether drinking is going to extend my life or not, but it will make the time I do have a hell of a lot more enjoyable.
posted by The Card Cheat at 12:20 PM on September 2 [1 favorite]


...you people are washing and dressing the olives you get out if the oil bins right?
posted by The Whelk at 12:22 PM on September 2 [2 favorites]


To quote my favorite Baz Lurhman film, "A life lived in fear is a life half lived!"

So drink up or not, but were all gonna die sometime between NOW and a point in the future and odds are we only get one pass through.

At 45, I've said yes to whiskey, ganja, and exercise, Mostly No to meat, and I'm in better shape than I was as a competitive athlete in college wearing jeans a size I haven't bought since jr high.

Personally, I'm a bartender, so I'm a legalized drug dealer. I've seen people with bad relationships to alcohol on both sides of the bar. But honestly, you wanna look like shit as you age, smoke cigarettes.

But it absolutely is possible to have a healthy relationship w alcohol. It's fun, rewarding to the sense, and makes the company you keep the same.

And now we'll live longer too while having fun with fun people.

Just don't forget the push-ups part. ;-)
posted by Pirate-Bartender-Zombie-Monkey at 12:23 PM on September 2 [6 favorites]


Jenny McCarthy told me drinking causes autism.
posted by blue_beetle at 12:23 PM on September 2 [2 favorites]


(considers starting the Mefi Freelancer Noontime Alcohol Appreciation Society)

Where do I sign up and what time zone are we operating on?
posted by Dr Dracator at 12:45 PM on September 2 [2 favorites]


Dr Dracator: Where do I sign up and what time zone are we operating on?

It's always beer thirty somewhere.
posted by tonycpsu at 12:49 PM on September 2 [5 favorites]


Speaking of the idea that social drinking is healthier. Why is it that the only time I get puke my brains out drunk is when I'm being social?

I suppose, first, that I'm drinking liquor vs beer (where most social drinkers are drinking beer (or maybe wine if it's a meal))... Second, it's because I'm so distracted by the FUN of being social and playing games and whatever, that I get drunker and drunker and then I'm funny tapdance ladeefuckin'.... oh ... I don't feel so good...
posted by symbioid at 12:54 PM on September 2 [1 favorite]


I'm burying an old friend later this month who literally drank himself to death, as his father did before him.

I understand that anecdotes aren't data, but I'll be telling his (now fatherless) son that alcohol wants to kill him.
posted by DWRoelands at 12:55 PM on September 2 [2 favorites]


...you people are washing and dressing the olives you get out if the oil bins right?

My olives are hand-delivered in small ceramic jars by authentic elderly greek farmers. What are these "bins" of which you speak?
posted by elizardbits at 1:10 PM on September 2 [4 favorites]


It's where the farmers are stored between deliveries.
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 1:19 PM on September 2 [3 favorites]


Jenny McCarthy told me drinking causes autism.

Autistic people told me Jenny McCarthy drives them to drink.
posted by jaduncan at 1:19 PM on September 2 [11 favorites]


I wish we'd worry less about abstinence and more about proper mental health care for those who need it, and harsh penalties for drinking and driving.

This really bothers me. I agree that drunk driving is a problem that needs to be better addressed, and that mental health care availability is unconscionably poor. I feel for your loss; I can't imagine how losing a sibling must be.

Harsher penalties are never going to stop drunk driving from occurring, in exactly the same way that harsh penalties didn't stop people drinking in the first place during prohibition, and don't stop college freshmen from drinking now. Penalties are currently incredibly harsh, and we keep changing the situations where they apply to hurt more and more people's lives. The penalties we have for drunk driving in the USA are terribly ill considered — they cause people to get kicked out of schools, to lose jobs, to default on mortgages and miss rents. As few as one conviction can be a life defining event. Heavy punishments for making a mistake — though yes, a mistake that is foreseeable — encourage, rather than discourage, recidivism, and help form one cause of long term mental health problems.

The biggest reason people drink and drive is simple: we organize our medium and small cities and towns to make it much more likely that one will drive to a bar than walk, take public transportation, or take a taxi. Once a person has done that, they're significantly more likely to drive home than any other mode of transportation. If we want to address drunk driving, we've got to focus on the causes that we can control. Poor decision making once you're already drinking isn't one of those. We need to make it a mistake people won't make simply because of the conditions they're in, which society has largely set up externally, combined with the poor decision making that comes with drinking in the first place. Should we penalize drunk drivers? Yes, but we should do so compassionately, and we should do so in combination with genuinely discouraging the mistake from being made again.
posted by atbash at 1:24 PM on September 2 [10 favorites]


My olives are hand-delivered in small ceramic jars by authentic elderly greek farmers.

thats a terrible thing to call Greg
posted by The Whelk at 2:06 PM on September 2 [1 favorite]


I have chronic acid reflux and can't drink without severe stomach pain.

So have I. I drink to forget it.
posted by carping demon at 2:12 PM on September 2


We live in a small town in the midwest and it's a short walk to either of the bars in town but we rarely go. Beer there is mostly fizzy piss and the company isn't exactly stimulating. I wish it were different but that ain't gonna happen. We drink at home. I have a microbrew almost every night and once in a great while some single malt. It's pretty much a rare thing that I can more than a low level buzz. Unlike my college days, I'm pretty much in it for the taste, that snap of hops against a sweet malt. For me, half the fun is just surveying the beer fridge in the basement and trying to make a decision.
posted by Ber at 2:16 PM on September 2 [1 favorite]


The Puritans in the US actually drank quite a bit. The Pilgrims brought beer over on the Mayflower. One funeral custom in 17th century America was to get "drink drunk" on rum. Sounds like a good time to me!
posted by Biblio at 2:26 PM on September 2 [2 favorites]


...you people are washing and dressing the olives you get out if the oil bins right?
posted by The Whelk at 12:22 PM on September 2 [2 favorites +] [!]


You're talking to the group here that doesn't like olives, right?
posted by chavenet at 3:39 PM on September 2


Well it's just a good idea in general.
posted by The Whelk at 3:40 PM on September 2


I am picturing the Whelk sitting around a table with little olive people made of olives and cocktail sticks, all dressed up in their little olive costumes, all nice and clean from olive bath time.
posted by biffa at 4:01 PM on September 2 [8 favorites]


gingerbeer used to think she didn't like olives and then when I worked at Whole Foods and was bring home small amounts of different kinds of olives all the time (because I like them!) she discovered that she *does* like olives! She just didn't like the olives you get in cans, the only kind anybody our age knew of growing up. I still like those, sort of. Mostly just out of nostalgia, though.
posted by rtha at 4:14 PM on September 2 [2 favorites]


All you olive haters, please come sit near me. I will carefully and deftly remove the nasty little spheroids from your plates and dispose of them properly (savoring them all the while).

(Note: offer not good for kalamatas or those horrific canned black ones that are suitable only for putting on the ends of one's fingers to make olive puppets.)
posted by Lexica at 4:18 PM on September 2 [2 favorites]


Yes, olive puppets! Nostalgia for olive puppets.
posted by rtha at 4:21 PM on September 2 [2 favorites]


As we may learn from the thousand-year-old Rubaiyat of Persian polymath, philosopher, mathematician, astronomer and poet Omar Khayyám, the virtues of being occasionally sloshed are many. "Drinking life to the lees" need not be just a metaphor!

I take it as a lesson that, for all his multifold efforts to be productive, he is remembered for nothing more than his magnificent paean to beating the Reaper. If it's excess that troubles you, your arguments with gluttony, not ethanol.
posted by Twang at 4:33 PM on September 2 [2 favorites]


I don't understand why so many people dislike olives. I don't think I've had particularly fancy olives, although I typically only see black olives so maybe this is a green olive thing.

That being said, having grown up Mormon, I probably would potentially qualify as someone with hangups around alcohol. I just think most alcoholic beverages taste disgusting. But I also am aware that for me, "delicious" as a descriptor for drinks equates to "sweet" (and I think this is a prevalent "problem" among Mormons), so in my postMo explorations, I stick with things like mimosas (which are delicious), hard cider, etc.,

For myself, I don't grok drinking for the taste. I'm not necessarily trying to get wasted, but if I'm not even buzzing, it seems like a waste.
posted by subversiveasset at 4:52 PM on September 2 [1 favorite]


> I don't understand why so many people dislike olives.

I really did not intend to start a big derail here. But the reason is because olives are terrible.

posted by something something at 5:09 PM on September 2 [5 favorites]


That being said, having grown up Mormon, I probably would potentially qualify as someone with hangups around alcohol.

You know, when I read the article my first thought was whether there were any long-range studies involving groups that typically eschew alcohol, such as Mormons. I'm sure this is a dumb idea for some statistical reason I'm unaware of.
posted by odinsdream at 5:32 PM on September 2


According to wikipedia, 7th Day Adventists are apparently mostly teetotal, or at least drink very little, and they live longer than most. Also, a bunch of them volunteered to be scientifically experimented on by the military. TIL.
posted by mrbigmuscles at 5:54 PM on September 2


They're also quite often vegetarians and their diet includes a lot of things like legumes and nuts. (The Amish are big meat-eaters and they have very low rates of type 2 diabetes and certain cancers, but actually pretty comparable rates of cardiovascular disease.)
posted by en forme de poire at 6:01 PM on September 2


Can't get the article to load. I'm agnostic on the subject (I haven't had a drink for 40 years because good reasons for me, but don't really care what other people do), but does the article figure in the increased risk of death (as in my urban neighborhood) due to violence as a result of alcohol.
posted by Peach at 7:04 PM on September 2


Dear The Whelk stout and chicken salad - recipe? Can't imagine how to work the stout into chicken salad. And you think olives are bad? Just sit by me, and give me the lovely gin-soaked olives from your martini.
posted by theora55 at 7:29 PM on September 2


The article makes the error of assuming causation from correlation. The research and logic of the article are seriously flawed.

I'll bet if my Mom didn't smoke & drink (in the 50s, when it was smiled upon), I'd be taller and healthier. I know if my Mom didn't drink, my brother would not have Fetal Alcohol Syndrome. She was over 40, so he might still have had some disabling conditions, but FAS is a bitch. Also, growing up with an alcoholic parent is not excellent. Drinking doesn't combine well with driving or anything else requiring full attention.

I'm able to moderate my drinking, and I enjoy it. At some point I realized that if I had wine with dinner, my after dinner parenting was lax, so I shifted it to after kiddo's bedtime. A glass of wine and a book is nice before bed. Resveratol might be good for you. Beer is tasty and has vitamins. Sometimes a nice bit of Scotch or bourbon is very pleasant. Risotto and other foods benefit greatly from wine. People who ostentatiously Don't Drink are annoying. People who drink a lot are obnoxious. Blah, blah, moderation, etc.
posted by theora55 at 8:23 PM on September 2 [1 favorite]


I used to be a teetotaler, until I met Mrs. Machine. She drove me to drink. (Not really—but we had drinks together while hanging out, and it was enjoyable.)

I grew up in a family that was very much of the "alcohol is the devil's pitchfork" variety, largely because of various abusers a couple of generations ago, and telling my mom that I had a drink of wine was as unimaginable as telling her that I am an atheist.

These days, I drink a glass of wine most regularly, but my drink of choice (and sadly relegated to vacation, for the most part, simply due to the logistics of drinking as a couple in a non-walkable place) is a martini with olives.

As for the folks asking "how in the world can you like alcohol?" and "how is it a hangup to ask whether you need alcohol to have fun?" and saying "I only drink water"—that is a puritanical attitude. Alcohol consumed in moderation, whether mildly healthful (as per the article) or mildly unhealthful, is a pleasure. In the vast majority of cases, it harms no one and can improve an activity with a gentle relaxation. There doesn't need to be a reason to like it; there is no moral difference between someone who likes and who does not like alcohol.
posted by sonic meat machine at 8:26 PM on September 2 [2 favorites]


I'm surprised at the comments where people are saying they feel stigmatized in American culture for being drinkers. Maybe it's a regional thing? I'm in NYC and would feel very heavily stigmatized for NOT drinking. People in my office sometimes crack open beers after 4PM on Fridays. People would probably think I was weird if they knew I had no alcoholic drinks at home and never drink when I go out to eat. I enjoy drinking, but it can make me extremely sick - gas, diarrhea, vomiting, fevers, and all that good TMI stuff. Probably a genetic thing. But I still drink at social events just so I won't be the weird guy not drinking.

In the US you can have an allergy to basically anything, or any sort of dietary restriction, and people will generally be respectful of your needs, but say you don't drink and it somehow makes you a wimp who can't drink, or a holier-than-thou teetootaller, or a recovering alcoholic. Order the fizzy water and people snigger at you and ask you what your problem is. And so I keep drinking even though it makes me sick. Because of our culture. Sigh.
posted by pravit at 8:50 PM on September 2 [5 favorites]


stout and chicken salad

They where separate things.
posted by The Whelk at 8:58 PM on September 2


I love some wine with (and after) dinner, or some beers with friends. But I have the ability to stop when I've had enough; not everyone does, and for them alcohol is definitely not a healthy thing.
posted by Dip Flash at 9:10 PM on September 2


In France, I watched parents give their small children sips of wine at dinner. Do that in the US, someone is likely to call CPS on your ass.

Heh. Once the wife and I were discreetly sharing a bottle of wine in a park. Some guy saw us and walked up to us and pointedly said "I've got young kids here."

Then my wife goes, "Sorry, we didn't bring enough for them."
posted by telstar at 9:38 PM on September 2 [42 favorites]


The research and logic of the article are seriously flawed.

Again, you've got to look at who's writing the article, and what he's selling. Peele's entire career is based around telling problem drinkers that they don't have to abstain entirely, and despite the general failure of this approach, keeps pushing it, this time with the scare tactic of claiming that "abstinence from alcohol is among the major risk factors for heart disease." Thus, his leading with the anecdote about the ball player.
posted by Halloween Jack at 5:11 AM on September 3 [2 favorites]


Telstar, your wife is brilliant.
posted by theora55 at 10:57 AM on September 3 [2 favorites]


Does anybody know if any of these studies control for social factors? I'm guessing the people having a drink a day are probably more likely to be doing so in social situations and with friends, which we know to be very healthy. Maybe more drinking is correlated with more socializing which is correlated with better heart health.
posted by Defenestrator at 11:05 AM on September 3


In the US you can have an allergy to basically anything, or any sort of dietary restriction, and people will generally be respectful of your needs, but say you don't drink and it somehow makes you a wimp who can't drink, or a holier-than-thou teetootaller, or a recovering alcoholic. Order the fizzy water and people snigger at you and ask you what your problem is. And so I keep drinking even though it makes me sick.

I think you may be right, but that this attitude developed in direct response to the hardcore Puritanical busybodies.
posted by rollbiz at 5:05 PM on September 3


In his early 20s, he recognized his “disease” and quit drinking. But I wonder if, like most 20-something problem drinkers (as shown by all epidemiological research), he would otherwise have outgrown his excessive drinking and drunk moderately? If he had, he might still be alive. At least, that’s what the odds say.

I know there is a deeper point that he's getting at, but this strikes me as an incredibly crass way to discuss someone's death and the vices that he struggled with. In light of the fact that we have no way of knowing whether it would have been true in this particular case, it seems used to simply add an emotional element to a statistic in a way that isn't honoring to the man's life at all.
posted by SpacemanStix at 6:21 PM on September 3


Order the fizzy water and people snigger at you and ask you what your problem is. And so I keep drinking even though it makes me sick.

No. Order the damned fizzy water, and if anyone gives you any shit, puke on their shoes. Or in their laps.

People who pressure others to drink are just as asshole-y as those who get pissy about people drinking. If they're pushing you to drink even though it makes you sick, they're shitstains and deserve to be puked on.
posted by MissySedai at 8:20 PM on September 3 [5 favorites]


I think you may be right, but that this attitude developed in direct response to the hardcore Puritanical busybodies.

No, it really didn't. First, as has been noted earlier, the actual Puritans quite liked drink. Second, there's a very long-lived cultural association of drinking with masculinity that is independent of the kind of public morality campaigning you're talking about. Now, the Puritans and others did associate public drunkenness with immorality, but this is rather a different thing than opposition to any and all drinking. And public drunkenness, historically, meant something a lot more like "staggering blind drunk" than "mildly tipsy." The exception was female drinking, which was usually seen as the mark of a licentious woman.

Much of what people call "puritanical" mores about drinking date back to the 19th century, and not much earlier. They are much more Baptist than Puritan, and, in the case of the temperance movement, they tend to be coded as "feminine." The reaction, such as it was, occurred the other way around.

So while there is a whole theological-moral judgmental strain in American culture regarding drinking, it is both newer than many people here seem to think and much of it post-dates the whole "a real man drinks" idea. Granted that the latter did mutate in response into "a real man can hold his liquor," which is a rather more dangerous attitude, teetotaling was not the preferred moral or social option for quite some time.
posted by kewb at 2:49 AM on September 4 [2 favorites]


This handy timeline may help anyone trying to discuss the history of alcohol use and the history of temperance and abstinence campaigns in the U.S.
posted by kewb at 3:01 AM on September 4 [2 favorites]


Except for one comment upthread, the use of "Puritan" has been metaphorical, not as reference to literal historical Puritans. People are talking about a sort of moral judgement towards so-called vice; rather than hats with buckles. It oddly has currency among people outside the traditional religious conservative community.
posted by spaltavian at 6:26 AM on September 4 [3 favorites]


"Even drinking more than is recommended, without displaying clinical symptoms of problem drinking or alcohol dependence (and these are not subtle), is generally better for you than drinking nothing."

Whatever you say about the benefits of drinking--and excellent social lubricant is quite a sufficient reason to bring out the bubbly, in my view--those of us with these unmistakable symptoms know better than to be lured by some magical benefit conferred by this 'couple of drinks' canard. There is simply no such thing for many of us--that's one of the not subtle symptoms! Early on the the big book of AA, heavy drinkers are distinguished from 'drinkers of our type'--even AA has no objection to non-problem drinking. "To your very good health, my friends!"
posted by Anitanola at 1:32 PM on September 7


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