09/19/2011 06:27 pm ET Updated Nov 19, 2011

Is Daily Drinking Good or Bad?

The "Monitoring the Future" annual survey of secondary school students asks American kids how they feel about various aspects of substance use. Two items in the survey are:

"Do you disappove of people who are 18 or older: Taking one or two drinks every day; Having five or more drinks once or twice each weekend?"

Which do you think high school seniors are more likely to disapprove of? They're close, but the answer is taking one or two drinks daily. A whopping 72 percent disapproved in 2010, compared with 68 percent who disapproved of weekend binge drinking by adults. ( Go here to see the data -- Table 10.)

Meanwhile, another of those studies about how drinking is good for you has come out. Conducted by the Harvard Health Professionals Study research team with nurses, the results were standard issue.

Here is the BBC's read on the results: "Women who enjoy an alcoholic drink in the evening tend to be healthier as they move into old age, research shows."

This finding is so standard it is hardly newsworthy any more. But the emphasis this time around, as relayed by the BBC, was on the importance of regular, daily or near-daily drinking:

Spreading consumption over the week is better than saving it for the weekend, the researchers say.

Women who drank little and often fared better than occasional drinkers.

... And women who drank on 5-7 days of the week had almost double the chance of good overall health in old age compared with complete abstainers.

So, whereas American high school students (more than 70 percent of them) are sure that light daily drinking (remember they disapprove of taking 1-2 drinks daily) is anathema, that's actually the best way for women to drink (better than not drinking, binge drinking, or drinking occasionally) in order to stay healthy and to live a long life.

Where do you think the kids are going wrong in their attitudes? Their misdirection might come from the emphasis in schools on addiction -- drinking daily, rather than sounding like a pleasant and beneficial ritual, reeks to today's children of a "need" for alcohol which, they've learned, is the equivalent of alcoholism.

And that's not good for you. I'm guessing the remaining quarter or so of the kids who don't disapprove of such drinking come from ethnic groups or have families where mild daily drinking is an accepted and enjoyable custom.

So, dear reader, is American education wrong when it teaches kids -- who have plenty of health issues they're on the wrong side of, like diet, exercise and weight -- that healthy drinking is unhealthy?

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