An editorial in yesterday’s Washington Post trumpets a “convincing link between a pattern of moderate drinking and health benefits” — and then inexplicably urges public health officials to “stay silent until the research holds steady for a decade or two more.” Research scientists have known that moderate alcohol consumption can be good for you since the Nixon Administration. So why would the paper that broke the Watergate scandal want to suppress that information?
The Post points out that there might be a big difference between the healthfulness of one or two ounces of alcohol per day, and that of three to five — a distinction, we are led to believe, that most Americans are unable to comprehend.
If the real fear is that any acknowledgement of alcohol’s health benefits would lead Americans to knock down a pint of whisky a day, then why counsel silence for 10 or 20 years? The science won’t change in that time, and neither will the Post’s belief that the public can’t handle the truth.
A 1994 Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) editorial concluded that 80,000 deaths could be prevented every year by moderate drinking. The American Heart Association seconds JAMA’s figure. That means over a million Americans might die needlessly early over the “decade or two more” that the Post wants for additional studies to simply reconfirm what we already know.