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December 19, 1986

The Risks of Moderate Drinking

Author Affiliations

South Oaks Hospital Sayville, NY
Columbia University New York
Boston University School of Medicine
Los Angeles

JAMA. 1986;256(23):3213-3214. doi:10.1001/jama.1986.03380230037008

To the Editor.—  The alcoholic beverage industry has mounted a vigorous campaign to convince the public that moderate drinking is beneficial to health. The "good news about alcohol" message has been repeated as fact by journalists and public officials (The Wall Street Journal, May 9, 1985, p 31; USA Today, March 14,1985, p D1).1The alcohol industry rarely defines moderate drinking, giving imbibers the leeway to rationalize consumption of excessive amounts of alcohol as moderate drinking. However, if moderate drinking is interpreted as one or two drinks each day, exhortations to drink in moderation, if heeded, would signal a drastic increase in alcohol consumption. Currently, 83% of all men and 95% of all women consume less than two drinks each day.2The notion that moderate drinking promotes health relies primarily on interesting, but still fragmentary, evidence concerning alcohol and heart disease. However, even if moderate drinking were shown