Reassessing the Role of Alcohol in Chronic Disease Development

Alcohol consumption has been strongly linked to the development of chronic illnesses. It’s also been known to cause birth defects, and organ damage.
December 12, 2011

Alcohol consumption is the sort of thing that has a bad rap when it comes to a lot of things. In the health and wellness world, it’s been strongly linked to the development of chronic illnesses, some of which are deadly. It’s also been known to cause birth defects, organ damage, and a wealth of other ills.

However, recent meetings, studies, and discussions among health officials have shown that the Commonwealth government’s position on alcohol use may be very out of step with what the World Health Organization (WHO) thinks about the issue, as well as the Global Strategy to Reduce Harmful Use of Alcohol. It’s also not gelling consistently with actual evidence according to Food Magazine.

While the reasoning that alcohol consumption in gross excess is a leading cause of death and serious disease in a variety of nations around the world is well documented, it’s important to understand that there is evidence that suggests harmful levels of use are directly linked to patterns and contexts related to a given population.

The latest papers from WHO on this matter respond to government critique by noting the following:

“The risk of most alcohol-attributable health conditions is correlated with the overall levels of alcohol consumption…. The available data indicate that the overall levels of alcohol consumption, measured as per capita alcohol consumption, correlate with major alcohol-related health outcomes.”

Most researchers currently working with alcohol and studying the effects on both the health of an individual or a population would tend to agree with WHO’s stance on the matter, as opposed to the government’s stance.

Australia’s reputation as a government could be hurt by the discrepancy here, as failure to actually resolve conflict between what experts on the matter think and what the government thinks makes the system look scattered and non-cohesive.