As the holiday season approaches, most wine lovers will look forward to socializing with friends and family in the days ahead. For many of us, these valuable social interactions will include a glass of wine. Such gatherings have been part of civilization for thousands of years. They provide pleasure and community connection which is vital for individual well-being. Nevertheless, many of us may be thinking twice about drinking during the holidays, even in moderation, due to the recent efforts of anti-alcohol advocates who claim that there is “no safe level” of consumption and that “alcohol causes cancer”.
Such statements are wild exaggerations of reality. Here are some reasons why you should ignore the fear-mongering and carry on enjoying a drink in moderation if you choose to do so. Firstly, the science related to safe levels of consumption has not changed. Hundreds of studies, and decades of scientific research, have consistently shown that those who drink in moderation live about as long (or even slightly longer) than those who don’t drink at all. The reality is that moderate drinking provides some cardiovascular benefits while slightly increasing the risk of certain cancers, some of which are very rare (see this article with comments from physician and winemaker, Laura Catena). For most people, there is little or no effect on overall health and mortality. Unbiased science continues to demonstrate this including work done in the past couple of years.
The claims related to cancer are also exaggerated and simplistic. In reality, nearly all cancers (96%) are not caused by alcohol. Of the 4% that are, most of these are related to drinking in excess. Indeed, if you want to confirm this … ask someone whose business revolves around life expectancy … the life insurance business. These folks will lose a lot of money if they get this wrong. There’s a reason that life insurance premiums are higher if you are a smoker … because there is a direct causal link between smoking and a shorter life. However, life insurance premiums are not higher if you are a moderate drinker … because, in actual fact, responsible drinking has very little to no effect on average life expectancy. You can see this for yourself if you play with the life expectancy calculator created by Sun Life Insurance. For example, smoking will shorten life expectancy by about 5 years or so. Moderate drinking will either have no effect or slightly increase life expectancy
Yes, those who choose to drink should do so responsibly and in moderation. But wine lovers should not worry about having a social drink while they mingle over the holidays. We all know family and friends who have safely consumed in moderation for decades and lived to a healthy old age. Now more than ever, it is important to enjoy the benefits of friendship and social interaction … and, if you want to have a glass of wine while doing so … don\’t let those who have built their careers on anti-alcohol advocacy scare you from enjoying yourself. Happy Holidays.