How the Alcohol Industry Polishes its Tarnished Halo

As the tragic epidemic of opiate and heroin addiction in the US draws our attention, the alcohol industry is successfully distracting us from the fact that alcohol is the deadliest drug. The climbing death toll caused by alcohol abuse receives far less coverage than the health benefits of moderate drinking even after alcohol’s “Health Halo" was tarnished by the recent reports that any alcohol consumption could increase cancer risk. According to the New York Times, the alcohol industry is the primary sponsor of a new $100 million clinical trial into the health benefits of daily moderate drinking. For our health, and the health of our children, we need to challenge the media’s distortion of the benefits of drinking !

When I turned on my computer this morning I was reminded in a glossy featured article on the MSN home page that whiskey can help prevent cancer, dementia, diabetes, the common cold and more. If whiskey is such an healthy beverage why would I ever drink anything else?!

Unless of course I chose tequila in a margarita on a hot summer day!

According to another article featured on MSN a few days ago, tequila could strengthen my bones, reduce blood sugar, boost my metabolism, and cure the common cold. Four of the five health benefits of tequila in that article were attributed to Agave but the article was titled 5 Reasons Drinking Tequila is Good for You not 5 Reasons to try Agave.

Marketing a potentially cancer-causing addictive drug as a healthy choice is nothing new. Fifty years ago cigarette ads were every bit as twisted as alcohol marketing is now. After the Surgeon General banned cigarette ads touting their supposed health benefits the increase of public scrutiny provoked the enactment of laws banning public smoking. As a result cigarette smoking has since lost all of its former glamour. Yet, even though the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) declared alcohol as a carcinogen in 1988, the alcohol industry remains immune to the laws that govern cigarette advertising.

Alcohol is marketed across generations and cultures the message that drinking makes you cool, sexy, fun and fully alive. It’s portrayed as an essential component of a life well lived and any concerns about the unattractive or dangerous side effects are answered. Skinnygirl Cocktails,LuLuemon Beer , Spiked Seltzer, Ty Ku Sake and Anti-aGin, a “Skin and Tonic” infused with collagen and anti-oxidizing botanicals, are seemingly indispensable and stylish products for the health and beauty conscious crowd. Alcohol is sold as safe, sexy and healthy unless you have a problem controlling your consumption.

Every day the MSN web portal offers multiple articles on the health benefits of a variety of alcoholic beverages. On the MSN affiliate NBC, TODAY show team Kathy Lee and Hoda are famous for their daily drinks fest. Funday Monday, BoozeDay Tuesday, Winesday Wednesday, Thirstday Thursday,Tryday Friday (the day they try something new)! are all the perfect excuse for a mid-morning tipple.

The demographic that is most likely to watch the Today show is the same demographic that is dying of cirrhosis of the liver in their early fifties at alarming rates. Middle-aged, rural white women who live in economically depressed areas may not be able to afford Kathie Lee’s brand GIFFT wine, but they are obviously meant to be encouraged by her example to think that daily drinking is an integral part of the “beautiful life” on their TV screen.

I’m a member of a more privileged demographic but we are also binge drinking at alarming rates. Educated, upper-middle class, middle-age white women may not be dying as often of cirrhosis as our less privileged sisters but that is most likely a result of economic advantage.

We can afford health care, gym memberships, excellent nutrition and if we binge we can afford expensive detox. Mobile hangover clinics offering intravenous re-hydrating vitamin blasts that cost about 300$ a session have become a booming business.

We must hold the alcohol industry to the same standard of truth that we hold the tobacco industry. We cannot allow them to continue selling their wares as the solution to the problem they create. I have learned from my own experience that alcohol addiction can creep up on anyone who drinks and it is an addiction that kills.

There has been a lot of conflicting information about the health benefits of alcohol and especially wine in the past twenty years. It’s no wonder the we are a bit confused about whether or not we’re drinking too much.

Depending on what you’ve read moderate drinking could be the best thing for you

………or not.

They say red wine is full of powerful anti-oxidants that prevents cancer

……….but the ethanol in alcoholic drinks is carcinogenic.

They say red wine promotes weight loss

……….but the calories in wine and the metabolic effects of drinking lead to obesity.

They say moderate alcohol consumption could prevent Alzheimer’s

………..but addiction to alcohol can lead to brain damage.

Thank you but we can think for ourselves.

Buyer beware!

Alcohol is the only drug that people question you for NOT using but you don't HAVE to drink.

This post was published on the now-closed HuffPost Contributor platform. Contributors control their own work and posted freely to our site. If you need to flag this entry as abusive, send us an email.
CONVERSATIONS