Category Archives: Alcohol

Death By Alcohol Is Increasingly Popular Among White Women in U.S.

Perhaps she should reconsider

Perhaps she should reconsider

Did you wake up with a hangover today?

From the Washington Post:

“Drinking is killing twice as many middle-aged white women as it did 18 years ago.

Generally, middle age (age 35 to 54)  is not the time to die in modern societies. It is past teenage dangers, before the serious perils of age, and improved medical care and public-health campaigns are keeping more people alive.

So why are middle-aged white women dying more often even while death rates for other groups continue to go down? What are white women doing that is so different?

One simple answer is: a lot more drinking.

Source: Nine charts that show how white women are drinking themselves to death – The Washington Post

A bit off-topic, but I’d define middle-aged as 40 to 65.

From the same Post article:

“The Washington Post has spent the year crossing the country to look into causes and repercussions of the strange increase in deaths among middle-aged white women and men. Alcohol, opioids and suicide are important factors. See the full coverage here.”

Exercise Cancels the Cancer-Causing Effect of Alcohol

Jamesons Irish Whiskey Photo copyright: Steve Parker MD

Jamesons Irish Whiskey
Photo copyright: Steve Parker MD

It was just a couple weeks ago we learned that you’ll die of cancer if you tipple. Well, a new study says you can counteract the carcinogenic alcohol with adequate physical activity.

A story at CNN tells us how much exercise it takes :

“Specifically, they looked at the impact of the recommended amount of weekly exercise for adults, which is 150 minutes of moderate aerobic activity. That includes brisk walking, swimming and mowing the lawn, according to the US Department of Health and Human Services. HHS also advises strength training for all major muscle groups at least twice a week.”

Source: Exercise can cancel out the booze, says study – CNN.com

The rule of thumb on how much alcohol is relatively safe to drink is 7 typical drinks a week for women, and 14 for men.

Also remember that even one or two drinks under the right circumstances can have devastating consequences.

Steve Parker, M.D.

PS: All of my books have extensive recommendations on getting started with exercise, even if you’re a 300-lb couch potato.

Moderate Alcohol Consumption Reduces Age-Related Inflammation and Postpones Frailty in Older Adults

IMG_3432

Jamesons Irish Whiskey (Photo copyright: Steve Parker MD)

We learned last week that alcohol causes cancer. This week, it seems to protect against frailty and inflammation in U.S. adults over 50, as long as the dose is right. Not too little, not too much. From the abstract linked below, I can’t say how much alcohol the authors consider “moderate.” If you want to see the full research report, you can pay the publisher $40 (USD).

Conclusions:

“Overall findings suggest that inflammation measured by CRP [C-reactive protein] is one mechanism by which moderate alcohol use may confer protective effects for frailty. These findings inform future research relating alcohol use and frailty, and suggest inflammation as a possible mechanism in the relationship between moderate alcohol use and other beneficial health outcomes.”

Source: C-reactive protein level partially mediates the relationship between moderate alcohol use and frailty: the Health and Retirement Study

MNT has an article on the topic you may enjoy.

Steve Parker, M.D.

Asked and Answered: How Much Alcohol Is Too Much?

Perhaps she should reconsider

Perhaps she should reconsider

You are reading P.D. Mangan’s blog and books, aren’t you? A sample:

“Heavy drinking has well-defined adverse effects, but we’re told that moderate drinking of a couple drinks daily may be protective when it comes to heart disease.Moderate drinking may be protective, or there may just be an association among intelligence, health, and drinking. And the protective effect of alcohol with regard to heart disease is typically seen in older populations and/or those who have a high background risk of heart disease.

If you’re in-shape and/or less than old, alcohol probably won’t decrease your risk of heart disease.However, moderate drinking can cause other illnesses, including cancer.

I’m forced to conclude that the benefits of alcohol have been overblown. However, in moderate drinking, the risks may be small — nonetheless, they are there.”

Source: How Much Alcohol Is Too Much? – Rogue Health and Fitness

Bix the Fanatic Cook Says Alcohol Causes Cancer

Beautiful woman smiling as she is wine tasting on a summer day.

“Even light drinking increases the risk for cancer. This was a big-deal study. It’s not getting the press attention it should because people don’t like it. Businesses don’t like it.”

If this was a big deal study, why was it published in a journal called Addiction? Few people read that.

Click the link for details.

Source: Alcohol Causes Cancer | Fanatic Cook

I don’t doubt that alcohol consumption is linked to some cases of cancer, probably causing them. The question is “how much alcohol and which cancers?” Up to this point, carcinogenesis had required heavy drinking. Except women with a family or personal history of breast cancer should be extra-cautious about drinking any alcohol, IIRC.

I wrote about alcohol and cancer in women in 2012. You’ll read at that post that alcohol consumption was linked to lower rates of three specific cancers.

I’m still not convinced that low to moderate alcohol consumption causes cancer in the general public.

I’ll keep my eyes and ears open on this important issue.

Steve Parker, M.D.

What Really Was William Banting’s Diet?

Banting thought salmon was too fatty

Banting eschewed salmon (too fatty?)

I’ve been reading about Banting’s diet for at least five years. Thanks to Tim Noakes in South Africa, it’s seeing a mini-surge in popularity. William Banting published his Letter on Corpulence in 1863. Eating like him to lose weight is sometimes referred to as “Banting.” It’s one form of a low-carb diet and considered a precursor to the Atkins diet.

Form your own opinion of what William Banting may have eaten by reading these:

In terms of macronutrient calories, here’s my rough back-of-the-envelope synthesis of Banting’s diet:

  • 20–25% carbohydrate
  • 25% protein
  • 20–25% fat
  • 25% alcohol
  • 1800–2000 total calories

For the 200 lb (91 kg) man that Banting was, 2000 calories would almost certainly have been a calorie-restricted diet. Leigh estimated he was eating at least 2800 cals/day at baseline before losing weight. I don’t doubt that.

In summary, Banting drank a lot of alcohol (even more than on the Ketogenic Mediterranean Diet), and ate fairly low-fat, moderately carb-restricted, and relatively high protein. In other words: low cal, low carb, low fat, high protein, high alcohol.

His weight loss, assuming it wasn’t a hoax, came from calorie restriction. Something about that combination of macronutrients apparently allowed him to stick with the program and maintain a 50-lb weight loss. Protein is particularly satiating. Your mileage may vary.

I’m concerned that 25% of calories from alcohol would displace more healthful micronutrients.

Steve Parker, M.D.

PS: William Banting was a distant relative of Frederick Banting, the co-discoverer of insulin in 1921.

Your Wine May Kill You In Ways You Never Imagined

Is the arsenic in the irrigation water, pesticides, or introduced during processsing?

Is the arsenic in the irrigation water, pesticides, or introduced during processsing?

In case you haven’t heard yet, a class-action lawsuit in California alleges that certain wines have dangerously high levels of arsenic that could cause cancer, cardiovascular disease, or diabetes. USA Today has one of the ubiquitous stories outlining the few details we know at this point.

Furthermore, chronic low-dose arsenic exposure can cause skin changes (e.g., scaly thick skin, darkening, lightening), peripheral neuropathy (numbness, pain, weakness, typically starting in the feet, then hands), peripheral vascular disease, and liver disease. The cancers linked to arsenic are mostly skin, bladder, lung, and liver. The increased cancer risk persists even after the end of exposure.

How Do You Know If You’ve Been Poisoned With Arsenic?

Comments here refer to chronic low-dose exposure; acute high dose poisoning is a ‘nother can o’ worms.

First, see your doctor for a history and physical exam and let her know you’re worried about arsenic. If arsenic poisoning remains a possibility, lab testing is usually a 24-hour urine collection for arsenic, or spot urine for arsenic and creatinine. “Spot” in this context means a random single specimen, not a 24-hour collection. For the 48 to 72 hours before either of those tests, don’t eat fish, seaweed, or shellfish.

What about testing hair for arsenic? In general, it’s not accurate.

Bottom Line

At this point, if you or someone you love drinks wine, I suggest simply keeping an eye on this story as it develops. We need more facts. The whole thing could blow over, with nothing coming of it. Look for discount prices on the involved wines over the next couple weeks. One of the brands mentioned is Sutter Home, one of my favorites.

Was it just a year ago we had the vapors over arsenic in rice?

Steve Parker, M.D.