Dr. Steve Mason

“We make some of our greatest gains when we see old things in new ways.”

Contact Dr. Mason by email at


by Steve Mason

Cheers! The other day I came across a headline that read: Alcohol Beats Exercise for Living Longer. Now that was something that got my attention. I remember when cigarettes were thought of as harmless and maybe even healthy. Perhaps you remember the TV commercials that featured a man in a white coat lighting up and assuring viewers that more doctors smoked brand A than brand B. Was it now time for ads showing a medical convention gathered around a keg? Well sort of.

Neurologist Claudia Kawas, from the University of California, studied more that 1700 healthy seniors in their 90’s to see if she could find any lifestyle habits they had in common that might account for their well being. Dr. Kawas reported on her findings at a recent American Association for the Advancement of Science convention. It seems that individuals who drank, increased their chances of living longer by 18% while those who exercised improved their odds by 11%.

To be more specific, the good doctor was talking about two or three drinks a day (preferably wine or beer) while exercise was defined as 15 to 45 minutes a day. Anything in excess of these guidelines increased rather than decreased risks to health. The benefits of exercising are well known but those related to drinking are less so. It seems they center on relaxation and mood enhancement. In short, feeling good. It was also found that a little extra weight up to 3 pounds, a little coffee up to 2 cups and especially a couple of hours
spent at a hobby were beneficial. And from the University of Wisconsin, recent research on Guinness Stout and the antioxidants found in red wine and dark chocolate might be beneficial in preventing blood clots and heart attacks.

Look At It This Way

At this point, a glass of red wine and a piece of dark chocolate probably seem like a good idea. It may be but how do you know? I asked a nutritionist who told me not to always believe everything nutritionists say. They would have to follow their patients 24/7 to see if what they said they ate was really what they ate.

Back in 1977, in the absence of randomized controlled trials, the federal government issued dietary guidelines intended to curb a rise in coronary heart disease. Americans were told that fat was bad so they ate less of it and heart attack deaths declined. However, it was later determined that it wasn’t the number of heart attacks that declined. There was no significant difference, they remained the same. It was the number of deaths that declined. After metaanalysis and a systematic review it was determined that it was improvements in emergency procedures and advancements in medical treatment that made the difference. In fact, the fat that Americans avoided was replaced by an increase in carbohydrate consumption and obesity rates have since burgeoned. So what about alcohol? I know I’m going to have a couple of drinks because they make me feel good. But are they good for me? Who knows?


No Comments

Sorry, the comment form is closed at this time.