Alcohol’s evaporating health benefitsBMJ 2015; 350 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.h407 (Published 10 February 2015) Cite this as: BMJ 2015;350:h407
All rapid responses
It is welcome news that epidemiologists are recognizing, if belatedly, that alcohol drinking does not have health benefits.1,2
For many years I have been posting rapid responses at bmj.com objecting to the false interpretation of the epidemiologists’ J-shaped curve. Doctors need to be aware of the biochemical reasons for intolerance, especially in societies where alcohol drinking is still being so vigorously promoted.
Individuals with a genetic variant associated with non-drinking and lower alcohol consumption have a more favourable cardiovascular profile and a reduced risk of coronary heart disease than those without the genetic variant.3
Alcohol is a cell poison which blocks polyunsaturated fatty acid pathways and makes cell membranes rigid. The "auto-brewery syndrome" is the self-production of alcohol in the gut (with raised blood alcohol levels in response to a glucose drink) due to increased bacterial or fungal gut fermentation which is very common with a high sugar diet or after antibiotics. Antifungal medication can have a dramatic benefit in preventing tiredness and depression due to increased gut fermentation and yeast sensitivity.4
The Million Women Study revealed that low to moderate alcohol consumption in women increases the risk of certain cancers. For every additional drink regularly consumed per day, the increase in incidence in women up to age 75 years in developed countries is estimated to be 15 cancers per 1000 women including 11 breast cancers.5
1 Daube M. Alcohol’s evaporating health benefits. BMJ 2015;350:h407
2 Knott CS, Coombs N, Stamatakis E, Biddulph JP. All cause mortality and the case for age specific alcohol consumption guidelines: pooled analyses of up to 10 population based cohorts. BMJ2015;350:h384.
3 Holmes MV, Dale C et al. Association between alcohol and cardiovascular disease: Mendelian randomisation analysis based on individual participant data. BMJ 2014;349:g4164
4 Hunniset A, Howard J, Davies S. Gut fermentation (or the “autobrewery” syndrome) a clinical test with initial observations and discussion. J Nutr Med 1990;1: 33-8.
5 Allen NE, Beral V, Casabomme D, et al. Moderate alcohol intake and cancer incidence in women. JNatlCancerInst 2009;101:282-3.
Competing interests: No competing interests