Wednesday, April 24, 2013

The Longevity "Paradox" - Alcohol

Continued from here:

In the statistical long run, the moderate consumption of alcohol and usage of tobacco products actually extend the lives of those who are able to do so without crossing the line of use into heavy overuse and abuse.

Your average person in today's Brave New World order considers the consumption of alcohol a net negative to general health. While some folks readily recognize the benefits of moderate consumption, it's not hard to find many, many folks that consider being a teetotaler to be one of the best things one could do for their overall health.

"I DON'T DRINK" is a phrase I've heard from many a person who states it as an article of faith that they abstain due to self-proclaimed commitment to a healthy lifestyle. You see the sentiment in health conscious regular commenters at a place like Mark's Daily Apple.

On the other hand, you meet people who enjoy the drink, but feel guilt racked about it and feel committed to serving some form of penance for committing the occasional transgression to their health. Now out of control alcoholics who recognize they have problems with self control and moderation should be reticent about the potential of abusive levels of consumption...but I've heard similar sentiments from a number of folks who are occasional, moderate drinkers. 3 beers on a Friday after work sort of thing. This is the cognitive dissonance of the person who likes the taste and mild sedative effect of a couple of drinks versus a lifetime of cultural indoctrination warning of the health effects of excessive consumption and anti-drunk driving propaganda campaigns. This imparts a mindset that moderate alcohol consumption is a "guilty pleasure."

Just another facet of the fear-based programming we are constantly bombarded with. It is similar to the endless promotion of solarphobia by the sponsors of the sunscreen lobby and a pharmaceutical-industrial complex that relies on a never ending supply of customers to treat the multitude of afflictions that develop from persistent Vitamin D3 deficiency.

Everyone knows alcohol is bad for your health!

Dr. Micheal Merzinich writes in Moderate Drinking and Longevity:

I have earlier described evidence from a large British study that identified a positive impact of the moderate consumption of alcohol on longevity — in their case, apparently adding about 1.5 years to a lifespan.

Now, from my own university comes another large, careful study that supports this conclusion, while doing a little better job of eliminating other possible factors that might account for this longevity benefit. For example, moderate drinkers in the U.S. are a little better off financially on the statistical average, and have other lifestyle benefits that stem from their advantaged position. In the UCSF study led by Dr. Sei J. Lee published in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society, 12,519 individuals over 55 years of age were tracked over a 4 year period. At the end of that period, 50% fewer moderate drinkers (equivalent to 1-2 glasses of wine/day) had died than did those who either drank less, or more. When other factors that could also impact mortality (for example, related to physical or mental health, or being financially better off) were ruled out, still 25% fewer moderate drinkers had kicked the bucket than had either teetotalers or heavier imbibers.

There is plenty of speculation as to why this is so. There has been plenty of research into the anti-oxidant properties of poly phenols in red wine, for example. But the statistical studies that show increased longevity from moderate consumption don't differentiate between red wine and other forms of booze. And there has been plenty of other studies done on this besides the one cited by Dr. Merzinich.

From Alcohol, the World's Best Medicine (Now there's a great article title!):

Moderate drinkers tend to live longer than those who either abstain or drink heavily.
- The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism has found that the lowest death rate from all causes occurs at the level of one to two drinks each day.10
- Drinking alcohol in moderation (1-2 drinks per day for women and 2-4 for men) was found to reduce risk of mortality significantly according to meta-analysis of 34 studies of alcohol and total mortality among 1,015,835 men and women around the world.11
- An exhaustive review of all major heart disease studies found that “Alcohol consumption is related to total mortality in a U-shaped manner, where moderate consumers have a reduced total mortality compared with total non-consumers and heavy consumers.”12
- A Harvard study found the risk of death from all causes to be 21% to 28% lower among men who drank alcohol moderately, compared with abstainers.13
- A large-scale study in China found that middle-aged men who drank moderately had a nearly 20% lower overall mortality compared with abstainers.14
- Harvard’s Nurses’ Health Study of over 85,000 women found reduced mortality among moderate drinkers.15
- A British analysis of 12,000 male physicians found that moderate drinkers had the lowest risk of death from all causes during the 13 year study.16
- A large study of about 88,000 people conducted over a period of ten years found that moderate drinkers were about 27% less likely to die during the period than were either abstainers or heavy drinkers. The superior longevity was largely due to a reduction of such diseases as coronary heart disease, cancer, and respiratory diseases.17
- A twelve year long prospective study of over 200,000 men found that subjects who had consumed alcohol in moderation were less likely to die during that period than those who abstained from alcohol.18
- A study of more than 40,000 people by the Cancer Research Center in Honolulu found that “persons with moderate alcohol intake appear to have a significantly lower risk of dying than nondrinkers.”19
- An analysis of the 89,299 men in the Physicians’ Health Study over a period of five and one-half years found that those who drink alcohol in moderation tend to live longer than those who either abstain or drink heavily.20
- An Italian study of 1,536 men aged 45-65 found that about two years of life were gained by moderate drinkers (1-4 drinks per day) in comparison with occasional and heavy drinkers.21
- A study of 2,487 adults aged 70-79 years, who were followed for an average period of over five and one-half years, found that all-cause mortality was significantly lower in light to moderate drinkers than in abstainers or occasional drinkers (those who drank less than one drink per week).22
- A large prospective study found that older men consuming up to about three drinks per day and older women consuming over one drink per day had a dramatically lower risk of dying than did non-drinkers.23
- A large study found that moderate drinkers, even after controlling for or adjusting for numerous factors, maintain their high longevity or life survival advantage over alcohol abstainers.24
- A Danish study of about 12,000 men and women over a period of 20 years found that abstaining from moderate alcohol consumption is a health and longevity risk factor. Choosing not to drink alcohol increases the risk of illness, disease and death.25
- A 14-year study of nearly 3,000 residents of an Australian community found that abstainers were twice as likely to enter a nursing home as people who were moderate drinkers. Drinkers also spent less time in hospitals and were less likely to die during the period of the study.26
- A prospective study of middle-aged Chinese men found that the consumption of two drinks per day was associated with a 19% reduction in mortality risk. This protective effect was not restricted to a specific type of alcoholic drink.27
- Alcohol prevents more deaths than its abuse causes in the United Kingdom, according to research from the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine.28
- Scientists at the University of London concluded that light and moderate drinking saves more lives in England and Wales than are lost through the abuse of alcohol. If everyone abstained from alcohol, death rates would be significantly higher.29
- The Cancer Council of New South Wales concludes that “If the net effect of total alcohol consumption on Australian society is considered, there is a net saving of lives due to the protective effect of low levels of consumption on cardiovascular disease.”30

It's not just related to longevity, but also better general health and well being:

Moderate drinkers tend to enjoy better health than do either abstainers or heavy drinkers.
- A nation-wide survey in the U.S. revealed that daily moderate drinkers experienced significantly less acute hospitalization.31
- A nine year study of indicators of good health found moderate alcohol consumption to be associated with the most favorable health scores.32
- A study that examined nearly 10,000 men and women at age 23 and again at age 33 found that the moderate drinkers experience lower levels of poor general health, long-term illness, and psychological distress when compared to abstainers and heavy drinkers.33
- A study of nearly 20,000 Spaniards found that moderate consumption of any alcohol — beer, wine, or spirits — was linked to better overall health, compared to abstinence from alcohol.34
- A nation-wide Canadian study found that moderate drinkers who consumed alcohol daily had 15% less disability than the general population.35
- A Dutch study found that moderate drinkers under stress were less likely to be absent from work than were either abstainers or heavy drinkers. The investigators concluded that “abstinence is at least as unhealthy as excessive drinking.”36
- A study of 3,803 individuals age 18 to 101 found that lifelong teetotalers as well as former drinkers are consistently less healthy than light to moderate drinkers (those who consume up to 60 drinks per month). The health superiority of light and moderate drinkers extends to both physical and mental health.37

Regular, moderate consumption also appears to be good for your bone density. Consider the following research - Moderate alcohol intake associated with bone protection:

 In an epidemiological study of men and post-menopausal women primarily over 60 years of age, regular moderate alcohol intake was associated with greater bone mineral density (BMD). Researchers at the Jean Mayer USDA Human Nutrition Research Center on Aging (USDA HNRCA) at Tufts University found associations were strongest for beer and wine and, importantly, BMD was significantly lower in men drinking more than two servings of liquor per day. The results suggest that regular moderate consumption of beer or wine may have protective effects on bone, but that heavy drinking may contribute to bone loss (see also Tufts University, Health Sciences).

So what to conclude from all these studies? Moderate alcohol consumption in combination with a healthy diet and exercise lifestyle seems to be the best combination to achieving good health and a long, natural life.

As I wrote in the first Longevity "Paradox" post, to those who consider our earth over-populated, and to those who desire to cull the herds of sheeple down to keep their COMPANY STORE running, there had to be a number of ways to mitigate the longevity and health improving effects of a lifetime of moderate consumption of alcohol.

To start with, all you need really do is compare different cultures and their approach to alcohol consumption. In the US, we have a National restriction on alcohol consumption or possession to anyone under the age of 21. In most European countries, there's a restriction for serving alcohol in establishments to the ages 16 - 18....but it's not a crime for minors of younger ages to drink at home if their Parents allow them to - whereas in America, it's considered a crime -- and even abusive -- if a parent allows a child under 21 to have a sip of alcohol in the privacy of their own home.

What does this do? It promotes a culture of binge drinking when American kids are on the cusp of adulthood. On one hand, we have the State saying alcohol is utterly verboten to young adults and adolescents, on the other, we have a mass media driven popular culture that glamorizes the college partying lifestyle. Movies like Animal House and Revenge of the Nerds portray binge drinking as a rite of passage for college youth. By arbitrarily raising the drinking age to 21, it creates an artificial demarcation that purportedly signifies the difference between irresponsible youth and mature adulthood.

But kids don't start attending college at 21, most start at age 18 or 19, and they have been raised with the expectations that the college party experience is supposed to be the best years of their entire lives. They get invited to parties where the older students are boozing it up, the under-agers long for the artificial adult status bestowed on 21 year you get the binge drinking phenomena we are all familiar with.

The key here from those intent on curbing moderate consumption, is instilling behavioral patterns in most people when they first discover the alcohol. Under 21 teens yearn to be recognized as mature, independent adults. But they can't order a beer or a glass of wine at restaurant, or even attend concerts, shows or nightclubs with strict age restrictions. In wider society, they are not treated like adults - yet they are allowed to vote, enlist in the military, sign legal contracts, possess and use tobacco, get married and divorced, have children and work full time jobs. This is essentially using alcohol consumption as the ultimate tool of deliberate social engineering to extend adolescence.

Contrast that with the typical experience of a European - excluding the UK, who's legendary, society wide drunkenness rivals the US college scene.  On a pilgrimage to pay homage to my favorite whiskys, I visited UK cities such as London, Dublin, Edinburgh, and Inverness . Every night I spent in these cities seemed like a nightly celebration of drunken hell raising and debauchery. Fun, fun, fun! But I digress...

People I know who come from France, Italy, Spain, Germany etc., have all told me similar accounts of growing up in a culture for which the attitude and approach to moderate alcohol consumption are taught from a young age. They were trained to drink moderately by their families, in the privacy of their homes. By the time they hit 18, there is no "mystery" nor desire to "reach adulthood" by jumping head first into binge drinking to "prove themselves" to their older peers in their social circles that they can "handle it" like an adult.

I certainly felt that sort of peer pressure when I went to college. Of course, by the time I got to college, I was already an accomplished binge drinker, as I had started in high school. When you're 15, you like to fool yourself into thinking your as capable and mature as a 25 year old. Only when you hit 35 do you realize what a fool you were 20 years earlier.

In any case, the contrast of cultural attitudes about alcohol between countries with a 21 age limit and strict prohibition on young adults and what happens when it's left up to the discretion of parents in the family home and a general laissez-faire attitude towards youthful drinking is stark.

Despite the so called legal standard that's supposedly in place to keep alcohol reserved for "mature adults ready to handle it" the results speak for themselves. Taken at face value, it appears that our culture is steadfastly opposed to the abuse of alcohol. But a more nuanced consideration of the results of the laws and social policies and mass media narrative concerning alcohol consumption brings me to the conclusion that they either want people to become hopeless alcoholics or teetotalers who swear it off for good.

 In this way, the longevity and health benefits that come from the moderate consumption over a lifetime are inhibited. If there's one thing about life destroying levels of alcohol consumption versus moderate, life extending and beneficial-to-your-health consumption, it's that both are patterns of learned behavior, formed during our initial introduction to consumption of the substance.

For every person who emerges from his binge drinking 20's into a moderate consumption pattern (like myself), you will get a bunch of others who either go off the deep end into alcoholic excess or have to quit drinking cold turkey. In either case, neither will experience the benefits of moderate, reasonable consumption.

From the view of THEY who want as many sheeple dying and getting sick and in need of the medical-pharmacuetical complex, this is the goal.

For example consider the ridiculous drinking and driving laws we now have in most places. .08 blood alcohol level could result in a DWI/DUI arrest and suspension of driving privilege and possible jail time. In other words, 2 beers after work could land you in trouble with the law.

Simply ludicrous. Yet the average teetotaler who is convinced of the detrimental health effects of even a single drink, are also the sort to wholeheartedly endorse such a totalitarian and unreasonable standard.

In a similar vein, we have been inundated for the last 20+ years by our mass media message about "drinking responsibly." Does that mean moderate consumption and avoiding alcohol induced retardation? Nope. It simply means find a designated driver. This is another subtle means of promoting binge drinking.

"We have a designated driver! Let's get hammered!"

Or, "We got a hotel room, (or a limo, or a taxi), so we don't have to worry about drinking and driving! CHEERS!!!!!"

When you look at it, our culture in the US has a number of indirect ways that promote binge drinking behavior patterns and discouraging moderate, daily consumption. This, in my view is done quite deliberately. Population control measures from the owners of our society have set it up this way. Can't have all these sheeple with improved health and longevity living long enough to start collecting entitlements!

Aside from the cultural aspects that discourage moderate consumption and encourage binge drinking debauchery, another way to shorten the average lifespan of the useless eaters, is to do what they've done with everything else - adulterate the quality of the product or even outright add literal poisons into it.

Most people who are raised in a culture of moderate consumption care about the quality of the booze they imbibe. They care about the region where the ingredients to make it come from. They care about the process of manufacture and how to enjoy it properly. Conversely, the binge drinking culture encourages a mindset of getting as intoxicated as quickly and cheaply as possible.

High quality alcohol manufacture is an artisan craft. Micro-brewed craft beers are "living" beverages, carbonated by the natural fermentation process. Mass produced corporate swill is "dead" pasteurized fare and injected with C02 to carbonate the beer. Same goes for mass produced box wine versus properly aged bottle and cask wine. High quality tequilas and mezcal are made with 100% distilled agave, and high quality whiskeys and rums are aged for years in oak barrels, a process in which the charred innards of the barrel wood work like charcoal filters that remove the impurities of the distillate over time.

As anything else, time is money, and quality produced alcohol takes time. You get what you pay for. The moderate consumer of alcohol will look at a more expensive bottle of booze and consider how long it will last them with their moderated consumption patterns when deciding on what to buy. No aficionado I know of drops $80 for a bottle of single malt, intending to drink it all in a single drinking session that night - unless they're buying it specifically to share with a number of people for a special occasion.

I have bottles of Scotch and Bourbon that I bought 6 or 7 years ago for which they still have little less than half their contents left. For the binge drinker, finishing a bottle is a matter of pride. "We finished the whole bottle and we were SOOOO WAAYYSTED, DUDE!"

For the aficionado and moderate drinker and collector of fine spirits, it's more like "Damn, I finally killed that bottle of Laphroaig, now I gotta go get another one or my collection of Islay malts will not be complete!"


There's another aspect of this topic I find amusing - the definition of moderation. According the official guidelines, this is only 1-2 drinks per day.

Meh. I go by my own definition.

No matter the amount I drank, if I feel zero after effects the morning after, I consider the amount imbibed perfectly moderate. I can easily drink 4 beers and 4 drams of whiskey and awake the next morning feeling 100% normal...but I normally don't drink that much. But even when I do drink that much, that usually occurs over a long period of time (6-8 hours) and involves a full meal of food as well. I like to think of it this way - a hangover indicates I've overdosed. No hangover means I drank exactly the right amount. Works for me. Like I said earlier, it's been well over 2 years since I last had a real hangover.

My regular pattern of moderation involves 2-3 micro-brewed, higher alcohol-content pale ales, stouts or porters. Sometimes, I'll also have a dram or two of whiskey or tequila from my liquor collection to finish off. (I use the term "dram" because I despise the word -- and practice -- of "shots." High quality spirits were meant to be savored by sipping, not slammed down your gullet as quickly as possible while trying not to gag on the burn.)

The binge drinker will only care about how cheap it is and how fast they can get drunk on it. They buy bottles with the intention of finishing it within one or two drinking bouts...either by doing shots or mixing it with sugary substances to cut the bite of impure and cheaply produce rot gut. Doesn't matter if they drink mixto tequila or cheap, barely aged whiskey blended with un-aged grain alcohol, or un-aged Rum made to mimic the color of wood-aging with caramel coloring. To the average binge drinker, the enjoyment of the beverage is not in the complexity of tastes that can be discerned by slow, deliberate consumption, but only how fast they can get intoxicated and how well the burn is easily masked with sugary sweet mixers, or alternately how fast it can be shot down and chased with a beer or soda.

But the moderate drinkers? These are they who like the taste of the quality, hand crafted beverages that can sometimes command a premium price - but good deals on quality hooch are certainly appreciated. These are they who enjoy the social aspects of conversation and camaraderie while having a few drinks with family and friends. And yes, that includes achieving a pleasant, moderate buzz. It seems as if the official guidelines for moderate drinking means even mild inebriation means you've overdone it. Nonesense, the mild buzz is part of the medicinal effect!

For the moderate alcohol consumer, a mild, pleasant buzz is only one part of the overall experience.

The binge drinker only learns to use alcohol as an escape, while the moderate drinker uses it an enhancement or condiment to life's experiences. I have almost zero truly good memories of debauched drunkeness. Nothing good ever came from getting utterly trashed and ending up saying prayers to the porcelain God with profuse offerings from the days earlier meals, or waking up from a blackout with a significant block of memory of the previous night erased and only having a vague sense that something bad had happened. Most of the bad experiences of  my life occurred from getting drunk and acting foolish and reckless.

But I've had plenty of memories of great times with mild intoxication from moderate indulgence.  It took years to recognize the difference and break out of the pattern of learned behavioral binging and purging, but I eventually got here.

It was either that, or I would've had to start attending meetings down at the local Y on Wednesday nights.

Moderate consumption is a recipe for relaxation and social bonding and improved health.

Binging into oblivion is a recipe for abuse and destructive addiction.

I believe I know which behavior THEY prefer we engage in...whether it's degenerate alcoholism or puritanical teetotalers, either case appears to brings down the average life span of the average sheeple in the Brave New World Order feedlot.

So cheers good readers! I shall drink to your health, and at the same time, contribute to my own!

Stay thirsty, my friends.

"Beer is proof that God loves us and wants us to be happy."- Apparently, NOT B. Franklin


Baws said...

I was with you until the portion on drinking and driving. Arbitrary threshold that can cause problems in your life when you were casually consuming, sure.

But point blank, regardless of this cultural dichotomy you're trying to construe as binge v. sobriety, too many people have had their asses handed to them by playing the percentage game. Innocent ones at that.

Doktor Bill said...

Totally Spot On. I've actually said the same things, sometimes Verbatim, for Years. If one is adult enough at 18 to engage in everything except drinking a beer, something is wrong with the definition of adulthood.

earl said...

A good rule for me is no more than 2 shots for hard liquor...or three glasses for beer.

Just enough of a buzz you feel it...not so much that you act stupid or get a hangover.

Unknown said...

Personally I think keeping alcohol in your blood kills off bacteria and viruses. It may not be true but it's what I tell myself.

Southern Man said...

From what I've read the benefits of moderate drinking have a lot more to do with the health benefits of a vibrant and active social life than actual alcohol, with the connection between moderate drinking and higher income running a close second. So I guess that beer I have with dinner every night (by myself) isn't doing me any good.

Anonymous said...

Regarding the picture at the top of the article: I learned in college that milk is the best thing for a hangover and that drinking higher alcohol-content beverages were less likely to make you sick since they were purer.

Also, I learned that women are just as uptight and nasty under the influence as they are when sober.

Mostly everything else I learned in college was a waste of time, though.

. said...

American beer is bad for your health!


Had enough of that when I went to college in the States!

Proud to be Canadian!

It's kinda weird how a beer commercial can rival the national anthem, but here we are.


Deansdale said...

"So cheers good readers! I shall drink to your health, and at the same time, contribute to my own!"

Reading this made me laugh because I was thinking the same thing - we old school MRA/MGTOW blogger types should drink to each others' health around the world. I think I will try one of your favorite whiskys and raise my glass in your honor :) But until I get my hands on that whisky, the wine I keep at home will have to suffice - cheers!

It seems you're not a big fan of wines, but let me recommend the best wine in the world anyways: the hungarian "tokaji aszu". It is a sweet white wine unlike any other. If you don't like sweet wine you should still give it a try. It is numbered according to its quality from 3 to 6 and there's an even more exquisite category but instead of #7 it's called 'essence'.

If you're not sold on the idea yet, read this:

...and the word checker wants me to type "casks", hilarious.

Anonymous said...

That IS a good point. Another thing I learned in college: beer is like a girlfriend. If you have to have one, at least get an import!

. said...

Better to be an export yourself, my friend!

Keoni Galt said...

Hey Rob, prior to the American Micro Brew revolution of the late 90's/early 00's, I would have certainly agree with you! I used to drink Moosehead, Molsons and LaBatts on the regular.

But Micro-brewed beer is like the farmer's market, you can taste the freshness. I just like the really strong hops flavor of micro brewed pale ales. Plus I've become acclimated to the higher alcohol content, I now find that "regular" beers like the Canadian brews I used to drink regularly are like light beers to me now. About 6 mos. ago I drank 10 Mooseheads in a single evening and didn't really feel all that buzzed...

Deansdale - thanks for the recommendation, you're right, I'm not a huge wine fan, but I do like it on occasion. I'll see if I can find it here in Hawaii at my local liquor store. My wife likes sweet wines, so I'll give it a shot if it's not too expensive!

Hearth said...

I believe you can still get beer but not hard alcohol on Base at age 18. My dad said that the general at the time said, "If they're old enough to die, they're old enough to buy a beer"... and that was that.

I don't like most alcohol, but I don't have a problem with other people drinking in moderation, and I think it helps the short people figure out how to consume responsibly if they see their parents do so.

. said...
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