In light of the fact an estimated 65 percent of the population does consume alcohol the study takes on increased importance. This is the first study on the relation of alcohol consumption and cancer revealing that alcohol is responsible for nearly 20,000 deaths a year.
Consuming only one drink a day is associated with 35 percent of these cancer deaths. Persons who consume three or more drinks a day account for 60 percent of these deaths.
Seven different types of cancer were involved. It might be helpful to define what “a drink” is considered to be in America. It is one 12-ounce bottle of beer, or a five ounce glass of wine, or 1.5 ounces of liquor.
An astonishing 15 percent of all alcohol related cancer deaths result from breast cancer among women. Ovarian cancer involves 15,500 alcohol-linked cancer deaths.
Among men, cancers of the throat and mouth were the result of most of the 6,000 cases of alcohol-linked deaths.
To rebut these facts, some persons delight to quote studies showing benefits associated with alcohol consumption.
Some studies have suggested that drinking in moderation may have such health advantages as lowering cholesterol and avoiding diabetes. Those are benefits to be desired.
Dr. Eric Rimm, associate professor of epidemiology and nutrition at the Harvard School of public health, downplays the recent study and says it overlooks the proven benefits of drinking on heart disease.
Conceding there are some limited benefits associated with the consumption of alcohol Dr. Timothy Naimi, director of the study, commented, “Anything that’s a leading cause of death is not a good preventive agent.” Applied to the statement of Dr. Rimm that means it is OK to risk death from alcohol consumption to potentially avoid death from heart trouble.
Dr. Naimi went on to say any benefits from the consumption of alcohol can be derived from other sources without a health risk.
Speaking of ways to lower cancer caused deaths D. David Nelson, co-author of the study and director of cancer prevention at the National Cancer Institute, observed “It is missing in plain sight.”
There are persons who resort to the Bible to legitimize alcohol consumption quoting the admonition to “take a little wine for the stomach’s sake.” That was very good counsel in that era of contaminated drinking water. The process referred to purifying water and avoiding such ailments as diarrhea. Rabbinical writings from the era define what “a little wine” was. It involved the ratio of water to wine, with the ratio varying for one part wine to five parts water to one to 20.
If a person relies on the Bible teaching in support of alcohol consumption, they should keep in mind what “a little wine” was for and what it meant.
The Rev. Dr. Nelson Price is pastor emeritus of Roswell Street Baptist Church. For copies of previous columns visit www.nelsonprice.com