Examining risks and benefits of alcohol consumption

Jun 29, 2010

A discussion by renowned epidemiologist Kenneth Mukamal has recently been published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, JAMA. It provides a discussion in response to a theoretical question, - if you are a 42 year old male, should you drink alcohol ( in moderation) for your health?

The paper provides an excellent discussion of a theoretical question about drinking and health. It focuses on the potential risks and benefits associated with moderate drinking for a middle-aged male patient. ' Most members of the International Scientific Forum on Alcohol Research (ISFAR) were pleased with the discussion of the topic. It was noted how uncommon it is that such knowledgeable, detailed, and mostly objective data appear in the mainstream medical literature. It was thought to be readable, informative and thoughtful.'

The reason the patient questioned his moderate use of alcohol was based on an encounter with a "specialist" who advised him to consider stopping drinking because alcohol could "accelerate brain shrinkage." While "brain shrinkage" is a radiological term with little known relation with clinical outcomes, most studies suggest less decline in over time, and lower risk of dementia, among moderate drinkers in comparison with non-drinkers. Such findings are supported by much data from basic science experiments. This illustrates the danger of incomplete information ("a little knowledge") by a member of the medical profession.

Mr. Q seems to be very careful (perhaps even a little too careful) in following a healthy lifestyle, including consuming small amounts of alcohol in a reasonable pattern. The ISFAR critique points out a number of topics that were covered incompletely in the paper, including inadequate information on the importance of the pattern of drinking: moderate regular consumption versus binge . Overall, it was believed that the paper provided important information for physicians who may be discussing consumption with their patients.

Explore further: Tax forms could pose challenge for HealthCare.gov

More information: Clinical Crossroads: Conferences with patients and doctors. A 42-year-old man considering whether to drink alcohol for his health. Kenneth J. Mukamal, MD, MPH, Discussant. JAMA 2010;303:2065-2073. (doi:10.1001/jama.2010.550)

Provided by Boston University Medical Center

3 /5 (1 vote)
add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

No need for reduced alcohol consumption in later life

Dec 18, 2007

Provided they stick to the same guidelines about alcohol consumption as younger adults, regular moderate drinking poses no additional risks to the over 65s, and may even bring health benefits, according to two studies from ...

Moderate drinking may help older women live longer

Dec 13, 2006

A study published in Journal of the American Geriatrics Society finds that moderate alcohol intake (1-2 drinks/day for 3-6 days/week, depending on alcoholic content) may lead to increased quality of life and survival in older ...

A Drink to Healthy Aging

Dec 13, 2007

Researchers at the University of Newcastle say a glass of wine a day may be of benefit to the health of older women.

Research shows a link between alcoholism and memory

Sep 10, 2008

(PhysOrg.com) -- A University of Sussex leading expert on the psychological effects of drinking told an audience at the BA Festival of Science this week that the effect alcohol has on memory could contribute to alcoholism.

Recommended for you

Can YouTube save your life?

Aug 29, 2014

Only a handful of CPR and basic life support (BLS) videos available on YouTube provide instructions which are consistent with recent health guidelines, according to a new study published in Emergency Medicine Australasia, the jo ...

Doctors frequently experience ethical dilemmas

Aug 29, 2014

(HealthDay)—For physicians trying to balance various financial and time pressures, ethical dilemmas are common, according to an article published Aug. 7 in Medical Economics.

AMGA: Physician turnover still high in 2013

Aug 29, 2014

(HealthDay)—For the second year running, physician turnover remains at the highest rate since 2005, according to a report published by the American Medical Group Association (AMGA).

Obese or overweight teens more likely to become smokers

Aug 29, 2014

A study examining whether overweight or obese teens are at higher risk for substance abuse finds both good and bad news: weight status has no correlation with alcohol or marijuana use but is linked to regular ...

User comments : 0