Drink to Your Health?; Eating to Live; Special Editions; by Arthur L. Klatsky; 8 Page(s)
Addressing an Illinois temperance society in 1842, Abraham Lincoln said something about "intoxicating liquor" that probably got a frosty reception. "It is true that ... many were greatly injured by it," the future president noted. "But none seemed to think the injury arose from the use of a bad thing but from the abuse of a very good thing."
America has always had trouble deciding whether alcohol is a bad thing or a good thing. Millions who remember Prohibition, when all alcoholic beverages were illegal, now witness a constant stream of advertisements from producers of alcoholic beverages encouraging people to drink. Despite alcohol's popularity today, however, many still consider abstinence a virtue. Certainly heavy drinking and alcoholism deserve deep concern for the terrible toll they take on alcohol abusers and society in general. But worry about the dangers of abuse often leads to emotional denials that alcohol could have any medical benefits. Such denials ignore a growing body of evidence indicating that moderate alcohol intake wards off certain cardiovascular (circulatory system) conditions, most notably heart attacks and ischemic strokes (those caused by blocked blood vessels). A few studies even show protection against dementia, which can be related to cardiovascular problems.