Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Alcohol and You

   Another study that suggests a positive health outcome related to moderate alcohol use (3+ drinks a week) was published in the BMJ.  I have not read the full article, but the headline prompts a few thoughts.
   Alcohol is now associated with less risk of heart disease (heart attack) and a lowered risk of rheumatoid arthritisSpecifically, in the new study of Swedish women, the risk of RA was cut in half for drinkers vs non drinkers.  The risk of the disease is not high, but it does affect women more than men.
   The research behind these assertions involves large groups and addresses risks for entire populations not individual people.  This does not mean that the results should not matter to you, but that a bigger picture is in play. 
   Healthy lifestyle behaviors are cumulative - each one that you include in your routine will add up to increase your odds of a healthy active life.  More importantly, adopting one healthy life style action will NOT compensate for the indulgence of a bad one.  Here is a possible example.
   My father and his sister, my auntie, both imbibed moderately and then some, for most of their lives.  Actually, I would say they averaged 2-3 drinks a day, not a week.  My father, as you may recall, suffered two heart attacks, one fatal.  My Aunt has severe, debilitating inflammatory arthritis.  It should be noted that of my relatives had diets high in saturated fat (red meat) and starchy vegetables.  My father exercised intermittently, my aunt not at all, and both sat more than three hours a day.  There drinking did not protect them from their poor diets and limited physical activity.
    A health promoting lifestyle includes many things and the wise woman or man takes them all into consideration.

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