A paper to be published in America's leading alcoholism journal compiled the results of studies of mental functioning in relation to drinking. The research repeatedly finds moderate drinkers have lower rates of Alzheimer's disease and are mentally sharper in old age. But, thank God, the investigators take great pains to make sure no one will take a drink because of these benefits!
Michael Collins, professor of neuroscience at Loyola University's Stritch School of Medicine, was lead author of this survey of 40+ studies, most of which found moderate drinking improves long-term mental abilities relative to abstaining. The article will appear in the February issue of Alcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research, the foremost alcohol research journal in the United States (I have only seen the press release).
I need to say that I was the first investigator to uncover this finding in my 2000 meta-study with Archie Brodsky, "Exploring psychological benefits associated with moderate alcohol use," in the journal Drug and Alcohol Dependence. I was roundly criticized for my efforts, so it sure is good to have confirmation from another American researcher -- at a Christian university no less! (I hope he refers to my article!)
Don't rush out and become an alcoholic, now, just because you heard this. American investigators who uncover such benefits - including the minor one that drinkers live longer than abstainers - are obligated to make the following comments, as Collins and his colleagues did:
The pathological damage and vast social havoc from addiction to and abuse of alcohol are well known, and of necessity should continue to receive primary attention by doctors, scientific researchers and health professionals. However, light-to-moderate responsible alcohol consumption appears to carry certain health benefits.
Benefits, as I said, like living longer and thinking better.
Oh, and don't you be drinking all over the place! According to the researchers:
Moderate alcohol consumption generally is defined as 1 drink or less per day for women and 1-2 drinks or less per day for men.
How much is less than 1-2 drinks? Maybe put a touch of alcohol on your tongue every other day with an eye dropper -- no cheating and putting two drops while we're not looking!
Then there's obligatory statement #3:
The researchers note there are other things besides moderate drinking that can reduce the risk of dementia, including exercise, green tea, education and a Mediterranean diet high in fruits, vegetables, cereals, beans, nuts and seeds.
So don't drink alcohol, eat beans! They're just as good! (Really? I'd like to see a reference for that - or 44 references -- like those considered by Collins et al., along with the many scores of studies finding that moderate tea drinkers have less heart disease and live longer).
And the finally necessary warning, lest people who happen upon this result immediately rush out, get drunk, and roll around in the snow and freeze to death!
Because of the potential for alcohol to be abused, the researchers do not recommend that abstainers begin drinking.
Thank God we covered all the warnings! You know, considering that (1) alcoholism is really bad, (2) a touch of alcohol is just as good as really drinking, (3) you can get the same results from drinking green tea, and (4) people shouldn't start drinking to improve their mental functioning and reduce cardiovascular disease since this invites alcoholism, I think we should immediately strike this study from the literature.
There, that final solution will allow me -- and the researchers -- to relax. You just can't let amateurs hear dangerous scientific results like these.
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