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Italian Consensus on Moderate Drinking & Health

Posted: Wednesday, 14 August 2013 11:33

Italian Consensus on Moderate Drinking & Health

Aug 14: A group of Italian scientists has prepared a consensus paper reviewing the available evidence on the relationship between moderate alcohol use and health and disease, which says the healthy adults may drink moderate amount of wine or alcohol but those with increased specific risks, abstainers and those in specific situations should avoid. There is also a critique by the Reviewers with the International Scientific Forum on Alcohol Research

The report resulted from extensive discussions among 36 prominent Italian scientists, and provides a working document for the scientific and health professional communities. It has been signed by 19 separate societies or federations in Italy, including societies in nutrition, cardiology, and general medicine, as well as organizations of scientists dealing with diabetes, hypertension, and obesity.

The consensus report ends with the following conclusions:

· In healthy adults and the elderly, spontaneous consumption of wine or other alcoholic beverages within 30 gms ethanol a day for men and 15 gms a day for women is to be considered acceptable. In fact, there is no evidence to suggest complete abstention from alcohol drinking by moderate users.

· Patients with increased risk for specific diseases, for example women with familial history of breast cancer, or subjects with familial history of early Cardio Vascular Disease or cardiovascular patients should discuss their drinking habits with their physician.

· No matter what the reasons for abstinence are, no teetotaler should be advised to drink wine or alcohol for health reasons.

· Alcohol use must be discouraged in specific physiological or personal situations or in selected age classes-children and adolescents, pregnant and lactating women and recovering alcoholics. Moreover, the possible interactions between alcohol and acute or chronic drug use must be discussed with the primary care physician.

Critique by the Forum Reviewers

Reviewers of the International Scientific Forum on Alcohol Research (ISFAR) considered this to be a well-done and generally well-balanced appraisal of the current literature on alcohol and health, which could help inform physicians and the general public about the current knowledge on this topic.

But the Forum reviewers were concerned about several aspects of the report. For example, the authors provided good data to support their first two conclusions, and recent publications that were not available to the authors at the time they prepared their report strongly support these conclusions.

However, Forum members found little data provided in the paper to support the third statement in their summary; in fact, the information the authors presented in the text would tend to support the opposite conclusion. Further, while it may be correct, their fourth conclusion was not supported by scientific data in the paper.

Forum members agreed that the importance of the effects of alcohol consumption on total mortality must always be considered, and agreed with the statement of the authors that “Low levels of alcohol intake (1-2 drinks per day for women and 2-4 drinks per day for men) are inversely associated with total mortality in both men and women.”

Key areas that the Forum believed could have been given more emphasis related to the association between alcohol and diabetes mellitus (diabetes type 2-editor), where data strongly support an approximately 30% lower risk for moderate drinkers, in comparison with non-drinkers.

Furthermore, the risk of cardiovascular disease is considerably reduced among diabetics who consume alcohol moderately. In addition, the potential effects of moderate drinking on reducing the risk of congestive heart failure, a rapidly increasing health problem related to ageing of the population, were not discussed.

Forum members also wished that more emphasis had been given in the consensus report to the pattern of drinking: current data indicate that regular moderate drinking, rather than sporadic or binge drinking is the pattern associated with the most favourable health outcomes.

Overall, this consensus report is an important and useful addition to the scientific literature on the relation of moderate alcohol consumption to a variety of health outcomes. It could be of great value to physicians and policy makers when providing advice to the public regarding the effects of alcohol on health.

International Scientific Forum on Alcohol Research

The Forum (ISFAR) is a joint undertaking of the Institute on Lifestyle & Health of Boston University School of Medicine in the United States and Alcohol in Moderation (AIM) of the UK. R. Curtis Ellison, MD, Professor of Medicine & Public Health, Boston University School of Medicine, and Helena Conibear, Executive Director, Alcohol-in-Moderation (AIM), UK are its Co-Directors.

The Forum consists of an international group of invited physicians and scientists who are specialists in their fields and committed to balanced and well researched analysis regarding alcohol and health. The Forum includes epidemiologists, statisticians, and basic scientists; cardiologists, hepatologists, neurologists, oncologists, and other medical practitioners; psychologists and social scientists; and specialists in social matters, psychology, and public health.

The Forum Periodically provides on its open web-site critiques and comments by Forum members on emerging scientific publications and policy statements related to alcohol and health, Summary Statements on selected topics related to alcohol and health, Archives of previous reports on scientific research related to alcohol and health and an opportunity for all to seek expert opinion on topics related to alcohol and health.

Medical experts may wish to visit their website  or click on Recent Reviews which are a source of this article.

You may also write to

Subhash Arora

< The Report and the Review are particularly useful for doctors, medical experts and the health conscious people. It is recommended that you encourage your neighborhood doctor or those in the related areas to go through the detailed report. This will help them in advising their patients-editor>

Tags: International Scientific Forum on Alcohol Research, Italy, ISFAR, Institute on Lifestyle & Health of Boston University School of Medicine, Alcohol in Moderation (AIM)


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