Friday, October 23, 2009


Alcohol consumption can often lead to branding the consumers as 'drunkards' though moderate consumption is often recommended for maintaining good health. It is the addiction to alcohol that makes people binge on alcoholic drinks without any self control. Alcohol affects every organ in the body and most telling impact is on the Central Nervous System causing its depression. It is metabolized by enzymes in the liver but the capacity for metabolism in this organ is very limited leaving the unmetabolized portion in the circulating blood.

No more than one drink a day (13.7 gm of pure alcohol equivalent) for women and two drinks a day for men are considered safe. Heavy drinkers take more than the above amounts and binge drinking involves taking on an average 5 or more drinks on a single occasion for men and 4 or more for women within a span of 2 hours. Such regular binging raises the alcohol level in the blood to 0.08% or more and can cause brain malfunction, rapid loss of body heat, increased risk of cancers, stroke and liver cirrhosis, damage to fetus and even coma and death.

300 ml of beer, 220 ml of liquor, 140 ml of wine or 40 ml of 80 degree proof distilled spirit such as gin, rum, vodka or whiskey constitute a drink and different countries have guidelines regarding safe drinking levels though the above general pattern more or less is followed with minor variations. Amongst alcoholic drinks wines are considered benign and their alcoholic content of 12-14% is well tolerated even by women. Promotion of wine, especially the red variety, is based on the presumption that it contains significant levels of health friendly antioxidants which help to neutralize free radicals at the cellular level.

The perception about wine may change dramatically if the recent research findings implicating wines in some disorders are confirmed. According to some experts regular consumption of red wine by women can cause liver damage in later life and therefore must be avoided. Similarly white wine has been shown to be corrosive for the teeth, damaging the enamel coatings that protect them from acidic foods. While adverse effect of wine on women is yet to be confirmed, laboratory studies with extracted teeth have shown succinctly that white wine does the damage. Much more clarity is required for any meaningful conclusion and wine consumers may shun this drink for fear of adverse consequences. What impact such a development will have on the fortunes of the grape growers remains to be seen.


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