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Is Alcohol Health Promoting ?

With all of the many factors that affect health, and in particular he health of the heart, can we isolate one food, alcohol, and figure out whether it is beneficial? In countries like France , red wine is credited with keeping heart disease rates lower than those in the United States . There is no question that there are beneficial substances in red wine that protect against cholesterol oxidation and may protect against heart disease. Yet there are also damaging effects from alcohol, which probably lead to the increased rates of cirrhosis of the liver seen in France . And the French rate of heart disease is not as low as it could be. Primitive cultures in which no alcohol is consumed have much lower rates of heart disease than the French.

Any time we are trying to understand the chain of events responsible for anything from a sports victory to the development of heart disease, many factors have to be taken into consideration, and many can be blown out of proportion. One missed shot at the end of a game may seem to make a team lose, but that one shot did not cause the loss any more than any other missed shot in the game. The player who missed the shot may blame himself for years, yet he is seeing things out of proportion. Anyone element in our diet, whether beneficial or detrimental, must be understood in the context of the entire diet. It is the sum total of everything we do in life that keeps us healthy or creates disease.

The residents of Rosetto , Pennsylvania , are well known for their high-fat diet and low rates of heart disease. Their community is very tightly knit, which may in turn have many beneficial health effects. A tight network of social support is a health- building factor that is rarely discussed. It is something that is rare in fragmented societies like America . The drinking of alcohol is often associated with social bonding.


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