16 May 2004

I'll drink to that

We've been hearing this for some time, and now the scientific evidence is in: there are definite health benefits in the moderate consumption of alcoholic beverages. From saturday's Toronto Star:

Tasters at the aptly named Santé [health] Wine Festival taking place through Sunday in Bloor-Yorkville are not only comparing more than 200 wines, they are also clearing their arteries, protecting themselves against cardiovascular disease and improving bone mineral density. Several studies suggest they may also be reducing the risk of gallstones, diabetes, lung infections, ulcers, emphysema, dementia and perhaps even some forms of cancer.

It's important to note that benefits are linked only to moderate consumption -- two 4 to 5 oz. glasses of wine per day for men and one for women. More not only cancels benefits but can rapidly accelerate risks and harm.

On the other hand, any less than one or two drinks a day may not be good for you, either. Quoted famously is R. Curtis Ellison, chief of preventive medicine and epidemiology at Boston University School of Medicine. "The bottom line is, never go more than 24 hours without a drink," he has advised. Abstinence is "a major risk factor for coronary heart disease," according to Ellison, who clearly believes a tipple a day keeps the cardiologist away.

Now if only we could persuade our legislators to slash the so-called "sin taxes" on beer, wine and spirits in the interest of easing the burden on our health care system.

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