Wednesday, April 14, 2004

He ain't heavy

The news that heavy social drinking may lead to long-term impaired skills may not be entirely surprising -- but what had me intrigued was what qualifies as "heavy" social drinking. Apparently a hundred drinks per month (80 for women) makes one a heavy social drinker. Sounds like a lot when put into a monthly consumption, but that works out to about, forgive me, it'll take a second here as my processing skills are permanently damaged, less than three drinks per day (for women), except in the month of February.

And, in February, we should all be allowed an extra ounce or so, it being such a depressing month.

At any rate, last I heard, two glasses of wine per day was considered medicinal, so clearly there is a problem somewhere in that last two-thirds or so of a glass that'll put you over the edge and drive you from clear arteries, good blood presure and reduced cancer to brain damage.

Standard tests of verbal intelligence, processing speed, balance, working memory, spatial function, executive function, and learning and memory were given to the volunteers.

"Our heavy drinkers sample was significantly impaired on measures of working memory, processing speed, attention, executive function, and balance," the researchers wrote.

It seems that the definition of moderate drinking is being continually re-defined and narrowed, much like the ever-reducing blood alcohol limit for drivers. MADD and other esssentially prohibitionist groups won't be happy until they have managed to criminalize the previously inoffensive practice of having two glasses of wine with dinner and proceeding to drive home. The brain damage study is interesting, alarming even, but it's the odd re-defining of what constsitutes a problematic consumption of alcohol that has me intrigued.