Gene Fords new work reflects 25 years of dedicated study into
sensible drinking and health. He was the first in the US to publish
news and information on scientific and medical evidence on moderation.
When AIM was first published in 1992 we considered merging and
producing a joint digest. In this new work several members of
AIMs Social, Scientific and Medical Council have contributed.
In the Epilogue Gene Ford sums up the difficulty in presenting
a case for sensible drinking and health. "This book has argued
two hypotheses - 1. that there exists a little recognised but
impressive scientific literature demonstrating health benefits
in a responsible drinking, and 2. that the systems responsible
for communicating vital health data (medicine and public health)
remain indifferent to its dissemination. As if on cue, along comes
the January 2002 issues of Time to make my case for me! In a
thirty-eight page feature - How to Keep the Doctor Away - the
nations most widely read weekly demonstrates extraordinary competence
across a wide spectrum of health issues but very little grasp
of health drinking science. Wine may be great for the heart, but
its been blamed for everything from cirrhosis of the liver to
hemorrhagic stroke, fetal alcohol syndrome and possibly breast
cancer, so consumption should be limited to no more than several
glasses a week" (How to keep the Doctor Away 2002).
Compare this negative coloration with the confident findings of
Ruitenberg which appeared in The Lancet one week later. A six
year study in the Netherlands among senior citizens, the authors
found that: Light-to-moderate alcohol consumption is associated lower risks
of coronary heart disease, ischemic stroke, and total mortality
in elderly men and women...These findings suggest that light-to-moderate
alcohol consumption is associated with a reduced risk of dementia
in individuals aged 55 or older. The effect seems to be unchanged
by the source of alcohol (Ruitenberg 2002)." Ford argues that it is common for the medical
profession to ignore the benefits of moderation, even for senior
citizens. He also says that major corporate education grants are
often directed to support neo-prohibition.
In thirty three chapters and 446 pages Ford presents a deeply
researched case for moderation. His reference on page 299 to the
first federal approach, espoused by NIAAAs founding director
Chafetz, rests on a formal distinction between use and abuse.
This approach is set forth by Hanson and appropriately sums up
the message of this book. "Rather than simply focusing upon the
negative consequences of alcohol consumption, we need to be encouraging
moderate consumption for those who choose to drink. Encouraging
the moderate use of alcohol simultaneously discourages immoderate
use" (Hanson 1996).