LETTER- It's a toxic brew

In your March 20 issue, Dr. Hook (John Hong) writes that alcohol has a positive effect in small and moderate amounts, especially to the heart ["Alcoholism: Have a problem with liquor?"]. But there was no comment on the risks of this amount! 

Actually, in 2000 our government declared alcoholic beverages to be a "class A" human carcinogen, along with arsenic, asbestos, tobacco, etc., and stated that "any" alcohol increases the risk of cancer. The French Paradox was disproved years ago by the World Health Organization because of faulty data, and there has been no clinical study of alcohol/wine. The supposed health benefits have been only from observation and association. 

As a group, wine drinkers have healthier lifestyles (not counting alcohol/wine use), and the sick-quitters are often included in the non-drinker group. We are being deceived when we're told that wine is healthy because it contains the antioxidant resveratrol. It also contains the toxin [sic] alcohol. The presence of alcohol hastens the breakdown of antioxidants in the blood, speeding their elimination from the body.  

Even small amounts of alcohol/wine alter the functioning of the brain, which puts not only the drinker, but also others, at risk, and recent reports warn that those effects can last even into the next day. The medical profession should be aware of the increased risk their drinking would pose to their patients– especially when regularly called on to perform and be alert.

Alcohol is "as harmful as smoking" scientists write in the Lancet ( 2/4/05). The encouragement to drink moderately (no more than one drink a day for women and one to two for men) was originally meant to encourage those individuals who drank more to cut back to these amounts. But this was picked up by the alcohol industry as a promotion gimmick to encourage alcohol use.

June Russell