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Contemporary Scientific Research Sheds New Light on Alcohol & Health

Prague, November 26, 2008 – Recently released studies confirm the conclusions of scientific research that Prof. MUDr. Bohumil Fišer, CSc.reasonable consumption of alcohol positively affects healthy individuals’ physical and mental condition. In comparison with teetotalers, those who keep their alcohol consumption a relatively safe dosage (for healthy adults, between 20-40 grams of alcohol per day, e.g., 0.5 to 1 liters of beer per day for men and 0.3 to 0.6 liters per day for women) are less prone to cardiovascular diseases, which are the most common causes of death in today’s society. Provided alcohol consumption is kept within the said range, in healthy individuals a reduction in the serum concentration of HDL cholesterol occurs, which leads to a drop in blood pressure in consequence of enlarged blood vessels, changes in water and mineral processing and reduced blood clotting. After drinking beer, the blood-sugar level drops, and it leads to, for example, heightened sensitivity to insulin, reduction in the frequency of infections, etc. On the other hand, excessive consumption of alcohol has negative effects on human health, and can manifest itself in risky behavior, for example while driving motorized vehicles. It is interesting that a review of excise tax rates and alcohol consumption on a sample group of 27 European countries has shown that there is no correlation between taxation on alcohol and alcohol consumption.

The studies enabled refutation of opinions that access to alcohol impacts the amount of alcohol consumed. That is also confirmed by data from the Czech Republic, where the long-term trend in per-capita alcohol consumption, between 1996 and 2006, is stagnation. While the number of persons undergoing treatment for alcohol addiction remains steady here in the Czech Republic, the number of men and women being treated for drug addiction is on the rise. The same trend, i.e., long-term stagnation, is also seen in the number of hospitalizations due to alcohol, while the number of drug-related hospitalizations is increasing. Studies have confirmed that, although alcohol can be promoted in the Czech Republic under some restrictions, consumption is stagnating, as is the number of persons with psychiatric disorders caused by alcohol. Despite that drugs are not promoted, the number of drug users and the incidence of drug-related disorders are both on the rise. The problem is proving to lie not in promotion, but rather in changes in people’s lifestyles.

“We must protest with all our might to avoid becoming political hostages of certain bureaucrats or politicians. The ones who first fought against smoking are now looking for new topics to catapult them back into the spotlight, and they see a war on alcohol as the perfect opportunity,” stated Professor Bohumil Fišer, M.D., former Czech health minister and former head of the Physiological Institute of Masaryk University in Brno. “Scientific studies establish that temperate alcohol consumption, above all of wine and beer, brings positive effects on human health, chiefly in the area of reducing incidence of cardiovascular diseases. They are public health enemy number one and are responsible for 54 percent of all deaths in our country,” added Dr. Fišer.

“Scientific research into the relationship between alcohol and human health helps us to objectively get to the bottom of this phenomenon and serve as a confirmation to producers of beverages, no matter what the alcohol content, of what has been claimed for some time now. Provided it isn’t expressly forbidden for health reasons, sensible, moderate consumption of alcohol helps and contributes to one’s balanced development,” stated Ing. Jan Veselý, Executive Director of the Czech Beer and Malt Association. “Those of us who produce alcoholic beverages are not only citizens, but also fathers and grandfathers; and we have an interest in seeing life around us developing as harmoniously as possible. That’s why we care so much about ethics in business and support responsible approaches to alcohol consumption. In the framework of communications activities, we fight against alcoholism, which represents a clearly damaging and anti-social phenomenon for the population,” added Mr. Veselý.

According to Dr. Fišer, some of the following measures from a recently published study by the British Medical Association must be implemented or advanced: programs aimed at educating the public about damage linked with alcohol abuse must be established; laws and regulations that would deter driving under the influence of alcohol must be passed; treatment services must be adequately financed; retailers’ legal liability for selling alcoholic beverages in accordance with the law must be enforced; research and exchange of information between countries must be supported; priorities for negotiations regarding public health about the regulation of international trade with alcohol must be set; and there must be international cooperation in the battle against illegal alcohol production and trade. Dr. Fišer conversely believes that the philosophy and politics leading to the regulation of access to alcohol – through licensing, raising taxes on alcoholic beverages or regulating advertising and promotion of alcohol and sponsorship from alcohol producers – is the wrong way to go.

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