Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Another reason to decrease ethanol consumption: transgenerational fetal alcohol syndrome might be occurring

One of the saddest moments of my young adult life was picking up a heavily pregnant friend from a bar one evening. She knew she wasn't supposed to be drinking, and she was embarrassed to be found imbibing solo and on the sly. My friend had her own mental deficiencies, and her baby ended up being taken away from her by the state child protective services after its birth. But much harm to the baby had already probably been done during the pregnancy. And if the recent findings in mice--fetal alcohol syndrome symptoms were found in the children and grandchildren of mice exposed to ethanol while in the uterus, even though those children and the grandchildren hadn't been exposed to ethanol in the uterus--hold true in humans, my friend harmed her potential grandchildren and great-grandchildren, too.

How heartbreaking and unnecessary are the results of alcohol abuse in modern times. Ethanol--the kind of alcohol that gets us drunk without immediately poisoning us--has only two non-recreational benefits that I can see: 1) killing bacteria that can cause illness, and 2) dissolving compounds, both harmful and healthful, out of plant matter. The first benefit is now unneeded because humanity has learned the importance of drinking clean water. The second benefit is still a good one, but after the compounds have been dissolved, the ethanol is no longer necessary and can be removed. Studies on the health benefits of wine usually conclude that it's the polyphenols and other antioxidant molecules, not the ethanol, that are helpful. One study has even found that de-alcoholized red wine was of more benefit than regular red wine. (http://circres.ahajournals.org/content/early/2012/09/06/CIRCRESAHA.112.275636)

I know it's not especially popular to say "greatly diminish alcohol consumption." I live in Colorado, and many people here are in denial about what they are doing to their bodies and brains with legal marijuana because they like the recreational aspect of it. But I'll say it anyway: ethanol is unnecessary, unhelpful, and best avoided.

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