By Dr Harold Gunatillake - Health Writer
There is a featured article in HealthDay News- dated Aug 23, 2018, with the caption, “Alcohol Helps Kill 2.8 Million People Globally Each Year”. It further says, the new analysis of hundreds of studies conducted between 1990 and 2016 found that one in three people worldwide (2.4 billion people) drink alcohol, and that 6.8 percent of men and 2.2 percent of women die of alcohol-related health problems each year.
How the United States fits into those figures is unclear. It was not among the top or bottom 10 for the most or the heaviest drinkers in 2016. Denmark led the list for most drinkers (97 percent of men and 95 percent of women), while Romania (men) and Ukraine (women) had the heaviest drinkers.
Denmark has a long history of brewing and distilling tasty alcoholic beverages, including Akvavit, Mead, Brennivin, Carlsberg Beer, Grog, and wines. The mere fact that they produce such a variety of beverages-also infers that Danish are good drinkers. However, the life expectancy among Danish is 81.10 years, (2015): Sweden 82.55: Ireland 82.86 years.
Denmark since the mid-19th century had the 5th highest life expectancy in the world.
Europeans drink more than the inhabitants of any other country. In 2005, they consumed 12.18 pure liters of alcohol per capita compared to the 8.67 liters per capita consumed in the Americas, 6.23 liters in southwestern Asia, and 6.15 liters in Africa. Ireland consumed 14.1 liters of pure alcohol per capita, putting them well ahead of the boozy Russians.
Consumption of alcoholic beverages is a worldwide pursuit to relax, enjoy company, drown sorrows, tackle stress, happy events, celebrations, and so on. Without alcoholic beverages there wouldn’t be a joyful event and would be most dull and boring
When the world population is 7.2 billion, one should expect more than the figure 2.8 million people to die of alcohol related death, if such large numbers are considered to drink globally.
This article does not encourage people to drink, but the stats reveal the mortality figures is quite insignificant, and should expect bigger numbers, if alcohol is such a killer.
In Sri Lanka, the very poor drink the well-known illegal brew-Kasippu’ in rural areas, and in towns the consumption of wines, beer and spirits are unbelievable. Every corner in Colombo streets there are wine-shops and such places are crowded in the evenings to purchase their grog. Toddy another local brew obtained from palmyra and coconut seems to be popular among the country folk. Most business and affluent people in Sri Lanka seems to drink heavily at parties and functions, as they engage drivers to take them home.
Life expectancy in Sri Lanka, according to the latest WHO data published in 2018 life is: Male 72.1, female 78.5 and total life expectancy is 75.3. Life expectancy in Sri Lanka seems to rise over the years though being a heavy drinking country.
There is another interesting recent article written by Racheal Rettner for Live Science under the caption, “There’s No ‘Safe’ Level of Alcohol Consumption, Global Study Finds” The article states that, drinking alcohol in moderation is more harmful than previously thought, according to a new study that concludes there's no "safe" level of alcohol consumption.
So far, The American Heart Association has pronounced that the incidence of heart disease in those who drink moderate amounts of alcohol (no more than two drinks per day for men or one drink per day for women) is lower than in nondrinkers. However, with increased intake of alcohol, there are increased health dangers including high blood pressure, obesity, stroke, among others.
Also, the AHA states that it is not possible to predict in which people alcoholism will become a problem. Given these and other risks, the American Heart Association cautions people NOT to start drinking ... if they do not already drink alcohol. Consult your doctor on the benefits and risks of consuming alcohol in moderation.
Every sensible person knows that drinking more alcohol as a habit increases such dangers as alcoholism, high blood pressure, obesity, stroke, breast cancer, suicide and accidents.
It is our belief, and looking around within our families, friends, and others, drinking socially has done very little harm, and having one or two drinks with your loved ones at the end of the day makes you more relaxed and beneficial to good health. This could be the reason that moderate drinkers live longer than the teetotalers.
There is a third article written by Harvard T. H. Chan -school of public health-updates dated 24 August 2018., under the caption, “Alcohol: balancing benefits and risks” The article states, “Moderate drinking can be healthy—but not for everyone. You must weigh the risks and benefits. Harvard Chan nutrition experts reviewed the research on alcohol”. The article states that it’s safe to say that alcohol is both a tonic and a poison. The difference lies mostly in the dose.
It is our view, that those who enjoy a night cap (alcoholic drink taken before bedtime), should continue with no guilt. Lots of people after a hard day’s work seem to wind-down after just say one cognac, sleep well and ready for another day with no hangovers. Your liver can detoxify small amounts of alcohol and eliminate through your kidneys with no harm.
Similarly, those who have a glass of red wine with the meal should continue, alone or with your family whilst dining
The problem arises if you desire to have a second drink, and that could with time become another third drink. You may become an alcoholic without your knowing. This is the danger in drinking, and that’s what’s counted as an alcohol related mortalities and morbidities. That drink you enjoyed becomes a poison with time.
Heavy drinking can lead to inflammation of the liver (alcoholic hepatitis) and then lead to scarring (cirrhosis) a fatal situation. Heavy drinking can increase your blood pressure and damage your heart (cardiomyopathy) and linked with several cancers.
There is a link between women who drink alcohol developing breast cancer. In a combined analysis of six large prospective studies involving more than 320,000 women, drinking 2-5 drinks a day compared with those women who don’t drink, the risk of getting breast cancer was high as 41%. However, in Sri Lanka, our women rarely drink alcohol, but the incidence of breast cancer among them is very high.
The article further states that moderate drinking seems to be good for the heart and circulatory system, and probably protects against type 2 diabetes and gallstones. More than 100 prospective studies show an inverse association between light to moderate drinking and risk of heart attack, ischemic clot caused attacks, stroke, peripheral vascular disease, sudden cardiac death and so on.
Bottom line: The choice is yours, whether to enjoy a drink daily or occasionally, or be a teetotaler. If you can draw the line a drink or two in the evenings after work would make your life worth living.
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