Alcohol Related Deaths

More than 100,000 deaths per year are attributed to alcohol, in the United

States. Alcohol-related auto accidents account for approximately 24,000 of these
deaths (most often the victims are under 30 years of age), while alcohol-related
homicide account for 11,000 and suicide 8,000 deaths. Certain types of cancer,
which are partly associated with the consumption of alcohol, contribute to
another 17,000 deaths. Alcohol-related strokes are responsible for 9,000 deaths.

25,000 lost lives are due to 12 alcohol-related diseases including cirrhosis of
the liver. All these deaths combined are the equivalent of 200 jumbo jetliners
crashing and taking the lives of everyone onboard, in just one year. Such
numbers are staggering until you realize that it is Coronary Heart Disease that
is the number one killer in the United States, not alcohol. There are roughly

900,000 persons admitted to U.S. hospitals for strokes annually and 830,00
admitted for Congestive Heart Failure. Though they are not always fatal, these
diseases will leave its victims at varying levels of incapacitation. Looking at
specific age groups, cardiovascular disease is the #1 killer of those age 65+
and #2 killer of those age 25 – 64 This is a political issue for the U.S. with
so many lives lost to alcohol-related disease and accidents. Leaders will not be
perceived favorably by designating research money to study the health benefits
of a drug responsible for damaging so many lives. I believe it is this political
climate which limits research in this area, and I believe it is this climate
that limits the amount of coverage the media provides about its possible
benefits. As I began to research this subject I was intrigued by the vast number
of articles and studies on the health benefits of wine. The industry has
submitted a number of press releases attempting to counter the negative social
stigma alcohol had developed circa 1992 - 98. These articles aside, I found
reputable sources, with published reports, from such respected names as Harvard,

UC Davis, Georgetown, and the Mayo Clinic. Several of these studies have been
published in the American Medical Journal, and the New England Journal of

Medicine. I found articles referring to the "French Paradox." This is an
occurrence where the French diet contains equal levels of fat as the U.S.
however the coronary disease related mortality rate of France is 1/3 that of the

U.S. diet. I believe we must investigate and prove or disprove the assertion
that wine is somehow involved. Either we are letting hundreds of thousands of
people die or become severely debilitated senselessly by not taking advantage of
wine’s possible benefits, or we are allowing an industry to spread half-truths
with the potential of hurting unsuspecting consumers. Mounting evidence
continues to suggest that when taken with a balanced diet, moderate amounts of
wine can reduce the level of LDL cholesterol in the bloodstream, reduce the risk
of heart disease, reduce the risk of stroke, and thus lower mortality rates.

DEFINING THE PROBLEM Are there health benefits to drinking moderate amounts of
wine, which will reduce the mortality rate in humans? HYPOTHESIS Even though fat
intake in France is similar to the American diet, the liberal consumption of
wine in France protects the French against coronary heart disease by lowering

LDL cholesterol and thereby lowering the risk of blockage, thus reducing
mortality rates. EVIDENCE First, mounting evidence continues to suggest that
when taken with a balanced diet, moderate amounts of wine can reduce the level
of LDL cholesterol in the bloodstream. The human body manufactures approximately

80% of the cholesterol used and stored in its cells. The remaining 20% is
derived from eating animal products. Cholesterol is transported through the body
via the bloodstream. To allow this, the body attaches a protein to the
cholesterol. This combination is called a lipoprotein. The body requires
high-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol ("good cholesterol") to assist in
the removal of low-density lipoprotein (LDL) or "bad" cholesterol from the
blood vessels. Failure to remove excessive amounts of LDL cholesterol will
result in a plaque buildup and blockage of the body’s main arteries. Blockages
may occur gradually or suddenly. Plaque can break off and create a blood clot,
with the consequences of a possible heart attack or stroke. Doctors at the Mayo

Clinic suggest a low-fat diet and exercise to lower and maintain the correct
balance of cholesterol. If the balance can not be achieved through diet and
exercise, drugs are now available to reduce levels of HDL cholesterol; drugs for
this treatment however are costly (up to $200 per month) and are associated with
some risk of liver damage. In a Mayo Clinic Dietician report