Category Archives: Alcohol

Low to Moderate Alcohol Drinking Linked to Improved Cognitive Function in Adults

Jameson’s in a hotel bar near Chicago

From JAMA network:

These findings suggested that low to moderate alcohol drinking was associated with better global cognition scores, and these associations appeared stronger for white participants than for black participants.

Source: Association of Low to Moderate Alcohol Drinking With Cognitive Functions From Middle to Older Age Among US Adults | Dementia and Cognitive Impairment | JAMA Network Open | JAMA Network

     Steve Parker, M.D.

Should You Consider a “Dry January”?

Goodbye to you. Maybe see you in February.

I’ve run across a number of people who slowly increased their alcohol consumption over months or years, not realizing it was causing or would cause problems for them. Alcohol is dangerous, lethal at times.

From a health standpoint, the generally accepted safe levels of consumption are:

  • no more than one standard drink per day for women
  • no more than two standard drinks per day for men

One drink is 5 ounces of wine, 12 ounces of beer, or 1.5 ounces of 80 proof distilled spirits (e.g., vodka, whiskey, gin).

Dry January was conceived in the UK in 2012 or 2014. The idea is simply to abstain from all alcohol for the month of January. The Alcohol Change UK website can help you git ‘er done. Many folks notice that they sleep better, have more energy, lose weight, and save money. There are other potential benefits.

If you think you may have an unhealthy relationship with alcohol, check your CAGE score. It’s quick and easy.

Alternatively, if you make a commitment to a Dry January but can’t do it, you may well have a problem.

Steve Parker, M.D.

PS: I did the Dry January in January 2020. The only definite change I saw was that I was more productive. E.g., I blogged more regularly, worked out a bit more. The lesson for me is that alcohol makes me a little lazy. At three weeks in, I started thinking maybe I was able to fall asleep sooner but still woke up often, as usual. I also lost three pounds of body weight fat, but had consciously cut back on food intake.

front cover of Conquer Diabetes and Prediabetes

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front cover of paleobetic diet

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Alcohol-related deaths increasing in U.S. over last two decades, particularly among women

Irish Whiskey

According to the National Institute of Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, a recent scientific paper found an alarming increase in deaths related to alcohol:

The researchers found that, in 2017, nearly half of alcohol-related deaths resulted from liver disease (31%; 22,245) or overdoses on alcohol alone or with other drugs (18%; 12,954). People aged 45-74 had the highest rates of deaths related to alcohol, but the biggest increases over time were among people age 25-34. High rates among middle-aged adults are consistent with recent reports of increases in “deaths of despair,” generally defined as deaths related to overdoses, alcohol-associated liver cirrhosis, and suicides, primarily among non-Hispanic whites. However, the authors report that, by the end of the study period, alcohol-related deaths were increasing among people in almost all age and racial and ethnic group.

As with increases in alcohol consumption and related medical emergencies, rates of death involving alcohol increased more for women (85%) than men (35%) over the study period, further narrowing once large differences in alcohol use and harms between males and females. The findings come at a time of growing evidence that even one drink per day of alcohol can contribute to an increase in the risk of breast cancer for women. Women also appear to be at a greater risk than men for alcohol-related cardiovascular diseases, liver disease, alcohol use disorder, and other consequences.

“Alcohol is a growing women’s health issue,” said Dr. Koob. “The rapid increase in deaths involving alcohol among women is troubling and parallels the increases in alcohol consumption among women over the past few decades.”

Source: Alcohol-related deaths increasing in the United States | National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA)

I’ve written about adverse effects of alcohol consumption, and who shouldn’t drink alcohol at all.

Steve Parker, M.D.

Steve Parker MD, Advanced Mediterranean Diet

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Alcohol and Cancer Risk: Clinical and Research Implications | Oncology | JAMA | JAMA Network

Stillhouse Moonshine Whiskey (NOT specifically linked to increased cancer risk)

Do you drink alcohol in part because you think it’s good for heart health? For longevity? To prevent dementia? If so, you may be increasing your risk of cancer.

From JAMA Network:

Ample evidence has been available for some time indicating that alcohol use is a preventable risk factor for cancer, and the World Health Organization deemed alcohol a carcinogen more than 30 years ago. In the United States, it is estimated that 5.6% of incident cancer cases (approximately 87 000 each year) are associated with alcohol, including cancers of the oral cavity, pharynx, larynx, liver, esophagus (squamous cell carcinoma), female breast, and colorectum. Type of alcohol does not appear to matter; all alcoholic beverages include ethanol, which increases levels of acetaldehyde and in turn promotes DNA damage. Moreover, even moderate levels of consumption (often defined as approximately 14–28 g/d, the equivalent of about 1–2 drinks) appear to be associated with higher risk of some cancers, including cancers of the female breast. A protective association has emerged for some cancers, with the most evidence for kidney, Hodgkin lymphoma, and non-Hodgkin lymphoma. Nonetheless, the overall cancer burden associated with alcohol use is substantial and comparable with that of other preventable risk factors such as UV exposure and excess body weight.

Source: Alcohol and Cancer Risk: Clinical and Research Implications | Oncology | JAMA | JAMA Network

Steve Parker, M.D.

Steve Parker MD, Advanced Mediterranean Diet

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Moderate Wine Consumption May Prevent Dementia

…according to an article at Revue Neurologique:

The inverse relationship between moderate wine drinking and incident dementia was explained neither by known predictors of dementia nor by medical, psychological or socio-familial factors. Considering also the well documented negative associations between moderate wine consumption and cardiovascular morbidity and mortality in this age group, it seems that there is no medical rationale to advise people over 65 to quit drinking wine moderately, as this habit carries no specific risk and may even be of some benefit for their health. Advising all elderly people to drink wine regularly for prevention of dementia would be however premature at this stage.

But: alcohol is linked to higher risk of breast cancer

Source: Wine consumption and dementia in the elderly: a prospective community study in the Bordeaux area. – PubMed – NCBI

“Moderate wine consumption” typically more than 1 glass a day for women, no more then two for men.

Steve Parker, M.D.

Steve Parker MD, Advanced Mediterranean Diet

Click the pic to purchase at E-book versions also available at Smashwords. com.

Memories: Sense of Smell Must Be Wired Directly Into the Hippocampus

Have you ever smelled something that instantly brought back a strong memory?

Whenever I smell wax-leaf ligustrum blossoms in the spring, it takes me back to my childhood in Houston, TX.


Here’s to you, Uncle Hank

I thought I’d try a whisky less expensive than Jamesons, so I brought home a bottle of Jim Beam Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey. The first whiff immediately transported me back to age 12, Baytown, TX, and thoughts of my favorite uncle, Hank Tarski.

I don’t know what Hank drank, but I’m guessin’ Jim Beam.

Hank was quite a guy. I loved him. He was Polish and worked as a chemist at one of the petroleum plants in Baytown. Was he a fighter pilot in WW2, or did I imagine that? He had a beautiful huge mustache, smoked a pipe, had a waterfront house on Black Duck Bay. Hank’s laugh was infectious, and got louder the more he drank.

One of my strongest memories of him was when he took me and his sons fishing in a small boat on one of the local waterways. I still remember catching catfish and croakers; they were small but that doesn’t matter to an adolescent boy.

I also remember falling asleep upstairs with my siblings and cousins while Hank and Kay and my parents downstairs stayed up late talking and laughing, sometimes shouting! We could only imagine the muffled topics of adult conversation. This was the 1960s.

Hank died of pancreatic cancer ten or 15 years ago. I miss him very much.


PS. I almost named my son Henry, and we’d have called him Hank.

Ongoing Debate: Moderate Alcohol Consumption Isn’t Dangerous 

From Competitive Enterprise Institute:

“Joel Achenbach, a science and politics reporter, once asked why “many reasonable people doubt science.” He should look at his own reporting on alcohol research for the possible explanation. Despite decades of overwhelming evidence that moderate drinking confers health benefits, Achenbach’s August 3 Washington Post piece asserts that the evidence is “murky.” The basis for the assertion seems to come from a single study published in April in the journal The Lancet. Not only is a single study insufficient to challenge three decades of research, but Achenbach (along with reporters at other major news outlets) completely misunderstood the what this study found.”

Source: Science Reporters Get it Wrong: Moderate Alcohol Consumption Isn’t Dangerous | Competitive Enterprise Institute

From The Lancet: Guidelines on Maximum Alcohol Consumption May Be Too High

No, I haven’t read the whole thing. You go first.

“The main finding of this analysis was that the threshold for lowest risk for all-cause mortality was about 100 g per week. For men, we estimated that long-term reduction of alcohol consumption from 196 g per week (the upper limit recommended in US guidelines) to 100 g per week or below was associated with about 1–2 years of longer life expectancy at age 40 years. Exploratory analyses suggested that drinkers of beer or spirits, as well as binge drinkers, had the highest risk for all-cause mortality.”

Source: Risk thresholds for alcohol consumption: combined analysis of individual-participant data for 599 912 current drinkers in 83 prospective studies – The Lancet

Recipe: Mojito

Mastro’s Steakhouse mojitos set the standard for my wife

My wife rarely drinks alcohol, but she does enjoy a good mojito. So I decided to learn how to make one. I learned a new term with this project: muddle. I didn’t have a dedicated muddler so I used the thick tip of a spatula handle instead.

This recipe serves two. For one serving, just reduce everything by half.


3 Tbsp sugar (4 if you like things a little sweeter)

3 Tbsp water

20 fresh mint leaves

1 lime cut into small wedges

4 fl oz white rum

4 oz club soda (or seltzer?)


Make a syrup by putting the water and sugar in a small saucepan and warm on the stove over medium heat, stirring intermittently until sugar dissolves. Just takes 1–2 minutes. Set it aside to cool.

Put the mint leaves in the bottom of a small pitcher or large thick glass (I used a 2-cup Pyrex measuring cup) then add the lime wedges.  Muddle together gently for 20–30 seconds until the juice is released from the limes.

Add your syrup, rum, and club soda to the container holding the mint and lime. Stir briefly.

Fill two large glasses (2-cup capacity) with ice and pour half of your mix into each. Top off with additional club soda if desired. Enjoy responsibly.

Steve Parker, M.D.

Revised May 14, 2018


Red Wine May Prevent Tooth Decay & Gum Disease 

I’ve altered the original article’s headline because it’s misleading, making it sound like it’s proven that red wine improves dental health in humans.  But the allegations are hypothetical, based on polyphenol content of wine. Click below for the minimal details.

Source: Study: Red Wine Prevents Tooth Decay, Gum Disease | National News | US News