Monday, December 12, 2011


Is alcohol drinking dangerous? The answer may be yes and no! If imbibed in moderate quantity it may not be so harmful but excess consumption can lead to undesirable heath consequences. The effect of alcohol in inebriating the consumer is well known and those who need a clear head for undertaking some of the tasks like driving are barred from drinking before the work. However drinking by pregnant women is considered risky in many ways and therefore not advised by doctors. Pregnant women continuing to drink alcohol may be causing the child a lot of harm, the most widely acknowledged being the Fetal Alcohol Syndrome ( FSA). A child born to a mother indulging in drinking alcohol frequently during the pregnancy period can have physical disabilities, mental disabilities, abnormal facial features, growth deficiency, problems with central nervous system and peripheral nervous system. In spite of enormous knowledge generated on the ill effects of alcohol consumption 1 in 8 pregnant women is reported to be indulging in this dangerous practice, probably in some of the western countries. The initiative in Australia to print cautionary graphical icons on the label to persuade abstinence from alcohol by pregnant women is laudatory worth emulating by other countries too.  

"Alcohol consumption may therefore be a contributing factor to overweight and obesity." The ministers noted there were concerns that body-conscious Australians -- young women especially -- might start skipping meals to "allow for alcohol intake". Food Standards Australia will investigate the issue and report back to ministers. Health bureaucrats have also been asked to advise the ministers on the "efficacy" of extending the pregnancy warning to a generic message about the hazards of over-imbibing. "Alcohol is legally defined as a food but is also considered a drug . . . (it) has been linked to cardiovascular disease, cancers, injury and crime," the report says. Federal Parliamentary Secretary for Health Catherine King said the National Health and Medical Research Council had concluded there was no "safe" level of alcohol consumption for pregnant women. "There is now substantial evidence about foetal alcohol syndrome," she said. Alcohol damage to the foetus is the most common cause of non-hereditary mental retardation, and the NHMRC advises women who are pregnant or breastfeeding that "not drinking is the safest option". Lion Nathan, the brewer of the top-selling XXXX and Tooheys beer brands, has already agreed to voluntarily print a warning on its labels. And the Winemakers' Federation of Australia is encouraging its members to use a "pictogram" with a red line over the symbol of a pregnant women."

Generally alcohol drinking is considered a taboo among some cultures though many modern day youngsters ignore such sentiments because social compulsions. The controversy surrounding the beneficial effect of moderate alcohol consumption refuses to die down and many dispassionate observers feel that the negative impact of alcohol drinking outweighs any perceived positive effects and this calls for total abstinence from alcohol by human beings whatever may the pretext.  What is definite is drinking beyond 2 servings a day ( 140-210 gm for week for a man and 84-140 gm for a woman), can be catastrophic in the long run. It is reported that alcohol is responsible for one in twenty five deaths reported around the world. Higher levels of alcohol in the body can be a causative factor in many health related problems like persistent alcoholism, CVD, nutrient mal- absorption across the intestine, chronic pancreatitis, alcoholic liver disease, CNS damage etc. Considering these facts why not insist on making "alcohol warnings" compulsory for all all alcoholic beverages, just like that enforced on cigarette packing? Probably WHO must consider recommending this eminent suggestion to its member countries.  


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