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Alcohol Study in India suggests Wine Drinking Better

Posted: Thursday, 17 September 2015 17:06


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Alcohol Study in India suggests Wine Drinking Better

Sep 17: A study conducted by a Chandigarh based Institute suggests that the risks of drinking alcohol in low income countries like India and Zimbabwe are higher than the middle and high income countries but the wine drinkers generally have the lowest hazards for cardiovascular disease, including a significantly reduced risk of myocardial infarction, compared with never drinkers

Dr. Rajesh Kumar, co-author of the paper from the Chandigarh-based Postgraduate Institute of Medical Education and Research, School of Public Health (PGIMER) says, ‘while 38 per cent current drinking was associated with increased risk of cardiovascular disease, cancer and injury in lower-income countries, it was only 16 per cent in the case of higher-income countries.

The Study published today- September 17 in the journal The Lancet looked at its impact on people living in countries of all income levels, for the first time. Alcohol use is responsible for about 4 per cent of global burden of disease. But current drinking has been found to disproportionately raise the risk of cardiovascular disease, cancer and injury in people living in low-income countries such as India and Zimbabwe and lower-middle-income countries such as China and Colombia, it says.

Despite the lowest prevalence of drinking in lower-income countries, there was highest prevalence of high-intake and heavy episodic drinking. Both high-intake and heavy episodic drinking were associated with increased risk of overall mortality. “Our study confirms that high alcohol consumption is associated with increased risk of mortality, cancer, and injury, and a non-significantly reduced risk of myocardial infarction,” they write. A reduction in heart attack risk was seen with low or moderate intake but not with high intake of alcohol.

Another major difference between current drinkers in lower-income and higher-income countries was regarding the type of alcohol that they consumed. For instance, the percentage of people consuming liquor and wine was 89 per cent and 3 per cent respectively in countries like India compared with 10 per cent and 61 per cent respectively in higher-income countries.

An important observation for the government and medical authorities is that people who consumed liquor seemed to have higher hazards of mortality, stroke, cancer, injury, admission to hospital and the composite as compared to wine or beer consumers.

Although current drinking was associated with a 24 per cent reduced risk of heart attack, there was no reduction in risk of mortality or stroke, and current drinking was associated with a 51 per cent increased risk of alcohol-related cancers and a 29 per cent increased risk of injury in current drinkers. The results are based on the data that came from over 36,000 people between the age of 35-70 years and drinking currently, from 12 countries.

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Subhash Arora

Although not done specifically on wine drinkers for obvious reasons, the Study points out to two important aspects-the negative impacts of alcohol are higher in low-income countries. They are less for wine and beer drinkers who have been found to benefit from drinking in moderation while with excessive drinking the damage is less. This validates our plea to the government to encourage more wine and beer drinking and discourage liquor through its policies. Of course, moderation is the big rider. The Ministry of Health would do well to take the Study forward and at this point consider policies to delink wine and beer from liquor and spirits for making various policies on alcohol-editor

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