Page last updated: Tuesday, November 18, 2008
‘To Your Health’ The Science of Healthy Drinking by Gene Ford
reviewed by Peter Duff
Gene Ford’s 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 AIM’s 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 nation’s 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 it’s 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 NIAAA’s 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).

Published by: The Wine Appreciation Guild 360 Swift Avenue South San Francisco, CA 94080 1-800-231-9463 ISBN 1-891267-47-7
All text and images © 2003 Alcohol In Moderation.