The Science of Healthy Drinking (May 20, 2004)
by Dean Tudor
The Science of Healthy Drinking (Wine Appreciation Guild, 2003,
461 pages, ISBN 1-891267-47-7, $39.95) is by Gene Ford, a wine journalist
who specializes in medical writing about the benefits of alcohol and wine
consumption. To quote, "This book represents a new effort at resolving
a very old problem inordinate fear of drinking."
To begin at the beginning: The American Medical Association passed a
resolution on June 6, 1917, which included "alcohol as a beverage
is detrimental to the human economy, and... its use... as a stimulant
or as a food has no scientific basis." In part this led to the American
Prohibition amendment. Ford has been writing about moderation for two
decades. The basics of what he says (and what most people say) is that
alcohol in regular small doses is good for the body, but in episodic,
large doses it is life threatening.
The Greeks had a phrase applicable to many things: "nothing in excess."
The major problems with alcohol have always been that it can be addictive,
that it can cause allergic reactions, and that people don't know
where to stop. The easiest solution has been forced abstinence. But then
this infringes the rights of the knowing drinker who can control the substance.
Ford advocates a compromise between the wets and the drys in society.
He says responsible drinking is good for you, and that treatment is needed
for abusive drinkers.
Here we also get into economics of medical expenses. The book's blurb
reads, "In this book, Ford appeals to doctors and parents to evaluate
the data and to intervene in the public health and medical system, which
discourage all drinking in efforts to curb abuse." Before publication,
this book was sent out for review to medical, academic, and industry authorities,
whom I would assume to always be "on board" when it comes to
alcohol consumption. So the publisher gathered a lot of praise from the
already converted. It is always the religious and public health (government)
authorities who clamp down on alcohol. These are the people who need to
read and comment on the book...
The bulk of the tome is devoted to credible findings of health benefits
in responsible consumption for 30 common health conditions (including
angina, blood clots, high blood pressure, heart attacks, strokes, cancer,
Alzheimer's, diet, gallstones, kidney stones, and osteoporosis). Some
of these statistical and medical studies clearly show that moderate alcohol
consumption saves society in annual medical costs compared to not drinking.
Ford proposes one solution of communication, to get the results out to
the media for a wider audience.
Some interesting and useful facts: the index features authors
and publications so that researchers can check book sources and scientific
What I don't like about this book: not much on alcohol abuse. Also,
Ford doesn't really come to grips with the communications issue, not delving
deeply into why the word has not been spread.
What I do like about this book: along with extensive quotes and
sources, there is a ton of material in the bibliography.
Quality/Price Ratio: 92.