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 Vol. 3, No. 1                                        Page 11                                                January, 2001

Beverage Alcoholdrunkard

Bias Favoring Alcohol

By Louis Rushmore

Legal consumption of alcohol persists despite overwhelming evidence of its detrimental effect on mankind. Alcoholic beverages continue to enjoy a favored status though they are responsible for most accidents, numerous fatalities, many health hazards, heightened crime, employee absenteeism, contributing to rising health costs, domestic violence and strife, etc. and imperiling the souls within us. Only an unreasonable bias can account for the popularity of alcoholic beverages in defiance of a pragmatic evaluation of their detrimental characteristics.

Misguided Popularity

Unlike smoking, no one wants to tackle the problems alcohol presents to our society because too many people like drinking and are prepared to pay any price to keep on doing so. It's the "Ostrich Syndrome"; the ignorance is bliss mentality. Disagree? In 1986 Australia had 101 homicides which were committed using firearms (32% of the total number of homicides). That year there was a total of 678 firearm related deaths (homicide, suicide and accidents), of these 15% were homicides (suicide was the primary reason for firearm related deaths). In 1996, following a particularly bad incident, the Australian government with strong public support severely restricted private gun ownership. After all, owning a firearm isn't a necessity of life and if we can save just one life isn't restricted firearm ownership justified? In fact it would seem that this action could save in excess of 678 lives a year! According to Commonwealth figures, in 1992 there were 6,600 deaths in Australia due to alcohol. If the government is prepared to take strong measures over firearms to potentially save over 678 lives a year, why won't it do the same to save over 6,600 lives a year? After all, alcohol isn't a necessity (in fact it's a poison). The answer is simple. Private firearm ownership is not popular, but drinking alcohol is very popular. So popular, in fact, that many people don't care what misery or suffering is endured by society and families, nor how many people die from alcohol induced liver disease, traffic accidents, cancer, etc., as long as they can drink. (Mark Davey, “Alcohol,” The Drug Data Series, An Information Sheet from the National Drug & Alcohol Statistics Unit, Australia,” 2-8-98. http://www.powerup.com.au/~mdavey/ alcohol.htm [14 Sep 1998])

Statistically speaking, the U.S. Department of Health reports that alcohol-related deaths total 100,000 annually from all causes, including traffic accidents, liver disease, related violence, falls, etc. They put marijuana and other illegal drug-related fatalities at under 10,000 a year. Tobacco, by the way, is responsible for 450,000 deaths a year, according to the same agency. (Anonymous, "Alcohol vs. Marijuana: Which is safer?", Go Ask Alice, March 28, 1997, Columbia University, New York, http://www.goaskalice.columbia.edu/1130.html. [19 Sep 1998])

The direct material and medical cost of Alcoholic Beverage Abuse (AB Abuse) in the U.S. alone is estimated to be over 20 billion dollars per year. Absenteeism in the U.S. government due to AB abuse is estimated to be in excess of half a billion dollars per year. The inestimable social cost is expressed in the suffering, despair, and behavioral aberrations of alcohol-abusers, their families, and their community. Dr. Sidney Cohen, a drug abuse expert, described alcohol as "the most dangerous drug on earth." (Dr. Sidney Cohen, "Alcoholic Beverages and Alcohol Abuse," Environmed Research Inc., http://www.nutramed.com/alcohol.htm. [14 Sep 1998])

Moderation Unreliable

One of the most serious ramifications of drinking alcohol, even among so-called social drinkers, is irreparable damage to one's liver. "Alcohol has been shown to be directly toxic to the liver." (Anonymous, "Alcoholism and Co-occurring Disorders," National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, No. 14 PH 302 October 1991 http://www.drugs.indiana.edu/radar/alerts/html/ alert14.html [3 Oct 1998]) Young people as well as older, life-long drinkers can develop cirrhosis of the liver. Further, one does not have to be a heavy drinker to fall victim to health problems brought on by alcohol. Three to four drinks daily are sufficient to permanently imperil one's health.

Heavy and chronic drinking cause the liver to become fatty and this fat infiltration chokes off the supply of blood that delivers oxygen and other nutrients to liver cells causing them to eventually die. They are replaced with connective or scar tissue and this is called cirrhosis. This results in a drinker's reduced ability to tolerate the drug because there are progressively fewer liver cells to metabolize it. Genetic make-up plays a big role in one's susceptibility to this condition. Some alcohol users develop symptoms of cirrhosis after just a few years of consuming 3-4 drinks a day, while other heavy drinkers never suffer from this potential killer. The liver performs so many vital functions that we cannot live without it. It is the largest single organ in the body and it handles the majority of the blood that flows from the intestinal tract back to the heart; stores glygogen, the body's storage form of sugar for energy; and breaks down toxic compounds that occur with the body's metabolism. It is very important to "take care of your liver!" Warning signs of cirrhosis include jaundice (yellowing of the skin and whites of the eyes) and the back-up of fluid in the abdomen and lower extremities. At university health services, physicians have seen cirrhosis in men as young as 19-20 who started drinking heavily in their early teens. (Anonymous, "Alcohol and Liver Damage," Go Ask Alice, January 26, 1996, Columbia University, New York, http://www.goaskalice. columbia.edu/0772. html. [17 Sep 1998])

Sobriety Techniques Ineffective

Associated with irrational bias approving beverage alcohol, misinformation is commonly touted respecting remedies designed to mitigate the intoxicating effect of alcohol. The notion is that if one drinks too much a simple solution can restore him quickly to a state of sobriety. Under this guise, people mistakenly imagine that alcohol is thereby relatively harmless -- as long as they can effectively compensate for its intoxicating effect. "Once alcohol enters the blood stream, contrary to a wide impression, nothing can be done about its effects except to wait until it is metabolized by the body." (W.D. Jeffcoat, The Bible and "Social" Drinking, c. 1987, pp. 95-96.)

There is only one way to sober up: wait for your body to breakdown and eliminate the alcohol. It may take an hour or more for your body to breakdown the alcohol in a standard drink (a drink containing 10 grams of alcohol). The following methods do not reduce the amount of alcohol in your blood at all: drinking coffee, chewing gum, taking a cold shower, exercising, using a breath freshener, vomiting. (Davey)

Co-carcinogen

Among the several dangers attributable to alcohol is an increased likelihood of spreading cancer throughout one's body.

Researchers in the U.S. and Israel say that tumors are likely to spread after a night of excessive drinking. Their findings may explain why heavy drinkers suffer more than twice the usual rate of breast, liver and digestive system cancers. (Anonymous, "Study: Excessive Drinking May Help Tumors Spread," News On Alcohol And Health, SmartWired, Inc., 1996, http://smartwine. com/consumer/swjul96/sw079614.htm [3 Oct 1998])

Excessive drinking need not be a daily event to incur this health risk. Many drinkers occasionally drink excessively even if they do not drink excessively with any regularity. The biggest concern for these people, in their minds, is the selection of a designated driver. The drinking public needs to be fully apprised of all the hazards associated with consumption of alcohol. Doubtless few have considered or even heard of this characteristic of alcohol.

Besides the jeopardy in which drinking alcohol places the drinker, the potency of alcohol to harm one's body is magnified when combined with other substances that themselves also pose health woes. This circumstance is not limited to the cooperation between alcohol and prescription, over-the-counter, and illicit drugs.

Speaking at the Wine & Health Symposium in Reno, Susan Ebeler said as for existing health officials' view of alcohol, wine and cancer, "it has not been clearly established that ethanol by itself is carcinogenic, but that there is strong evidence that alcohol is a co-carcinogen that can increase the carcinogenicity of other compounds. For example, the effect of alcohol intake on absolute risk for cancer is significantly increased in smokers compared to nonsmokers." (Ibid.)

Conclusion

Whenever an issue is personalized, rationalization often soon follows. Frequently subjectivity overrides one's objectivity commensurate with his degree of emotional investment. Consequently, mankind demonstrates how adept he is at justifying all types of hideous or outrageous and sometimes criminal behavior. Even religious people have shown themselves capable of excusing the basest immoralities, including adultery and murder. It is little surprise, then, that something as potentially devastating on so many fronts as alcohol is routinely defended -- even by Christians.

[Editor's Note: A book entitled Beverage Alcohol, written by the Editor is available for sale. This title is published in paperback format. Please contact us via email to purchase it.]

Copyright © 2001 Louis Rushmore. All Rights Reserved.
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