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PS285 (38)

Health Chapter Eight.docx

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Lawrence Murphy

Chapter 8: Alcohol and Drinking The Blessing and Curse of Alcohol: Past and Present Attitudes - Modern views on alcohol as a social problem can be traced back to the eighteenth century when distilled spirits became available for the first time in Europe - Hogarth’s prints of beer street and gin lane illustrate the prevailing view by contrasting the pleasant and supposedly harmless effect of drinking beer with the dire consequences of drinking spirits  Beer street: general sense of industriousness and well-beings  Gin Lane: depiction of emaciation, death and neglect of children - Since the early 19 century popular beliefs about the dangers of alcohol have been shaped by organizations known as temperance societies  Brought about the era of prohibition  Helped to establish medical opinion that alcoholics can never return to moderate drinking but can only be cured by remaining abstinent for the rest of their lives - Predominant view is that alcohol is ‘all right in moderation but harmful in excess - In 2007, WHO estimated that 3.7% of global mortality and 4.4% of disease was attributable to alcohol (doesn’t include social harm) - In Britain a major source of concern is binge drinking—government authorities have been criticized for contributing to this by liberalizing the drinking law - Spain is not far behind; the equivalent phenomenon is known as ‘Botellon’, literally ‘big bottle’ where young people gather in large numbers at public places listening to music and drinking to intoxication International Case Study: Alcohol consumption in India - Misleading to characterize India as a dry or abstaining culture - Although majority do abstain from alcohol; its estimated that 21% of males and 5% of females do drink - However, of this amount that drink, half drink at levels known to be hazardous - India is a target for expansion, multinational companies are taking over local manufacturers Dangers of Drinking Alcohol 1. Physical Health - The dangers to health of alcohol consumption are not always found for light and moderate drinkers, who may even experience health benefits compared with non-drinkers - Prolonged heavy drinking is known to be the main cause of liver cirrhosis - Mortality from liver disease has doubled from 1991 to 2007 - Acute pancreatitis is another frequently fatal disease caused by heavy drinking - Bagnardi et al. reviewed the linkage between alcohol consumption and cancer  Results showed that increased levels of consumption lead to more associations with cancers of the oral cavity and pharynx, larynx, breast, liver and colo-rectum and stomach  Alcohol could be the cause of about 4% of deaths from breast cancer - Heavy drinking is the main cause of fetal alcohol syndrome and it has been linked to below average birth weight and increased risk of spontaneous abortion - No consistent evidence of adverse effects from low alcohol consumption but risks cannot be ruled out - Looked at possible benefits of light drinking: main focus of attention was coronary heart disease—studies showed J-sha
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