Word of Widsom Vindicated . . . Again

Inspired by a recent post about The Word of Wisdom by a writer who has a site dedicated to the subject, I thought to reprint about alcohol consumption. It didn’t get the deserved attention considering the implications. The quotes come from a Yahoo story that is no longer available. The link has similar conclusions.

Part of the Word of Wisdom dealing with alcohol consumption was supposed to have been put into question by studies. Every few months, it seemed, a new study would come out stating that moderate drinking of wine or dark beer helped with this or that health concern. Not so fast, says another study, because there can be more harm than good:

Experts with the American Cancer Society and the American Heart Association say that though these studies do show some benefits to moderate drinking, the health risks from alcohol consumption far outweigh the potential rewards.

The reason for the warning is that it may prevent some kinds of cancers and heart problems, but it can cause other cancers:

Drinking any alcohol at all is known to increase your risk for contracting a number of types of cancer, said Susan Gapstur, vice president of epidemiology for the American Cancer Society. These include cancers of the mouth, pharynx, larynx, esophagus, liver, colon/rectum and breast.

It also causes, as has been known, liver damage. However, all the benefits that do exist can be had by fresh fruits and vegetables:

For example, people can get resveratrol — the antioxidant found in red wine that’s believed to provide most of the drink’s health benefits — from drinking grape juice just as well as from drinking wine, Mieres said.

Those who have produced the study seem to be trying to have it both ways, extolling drinking in moderation even when they claim that is harmful. As for the moderation, having one drink or two drinks a day is the recommended. Known patterns of drinking don’t follow that very well. Other studies have shown that binge drinking, especially for the young, or having more than the above recommended glasses a day is far more likely.

Caution is still recommended with this study. Reports on doctors’ and scientists’ findings have a habit of discovering competing studies. For the moment, the health prescription from the Lord seems safe enough to continue following.

15 thoughts on “Word of Widsom Vindicated . . . Again

  1. Pingback: Tweets that mention » Word of Widsom Vindicated . . . Again The Millennial Star -- Topsy.com

  2. Two questions:

    1) Can you provide a reference for “Known patterns of drinking don’t follow that very well. Other studies have shown that binge drinking, especially for the young, or having more than the above recommended glasses a day is far more likely.” I ask because I suspect that the vast majority of drinkers drink at or below the “moderate” level, but if there is data that shows otherwise…

    2) What do you make of the WoW recommendation to drink beer?

  3. I believe you can start with this information about statistics on drinking. I am not sure how recent these statistics might be, but they shouldn’t have changed much from when reported.

    As for drinking beer in the Word of Wisdom? I believe it has more to do with the when the revelation was received. Up until recently it was safer to drink watered down alcohol than just water. Times have changed and there isn’t (except in underdeveloped countries) having other drinks is far safer even than the alcohol back then.

  4. Edit:

    As for drinking beer in the Word of Wisdom? I believe it has more to do with when the revelation was received. Up until recently it was safer to drink watered down alcohol than just water. Times have changed and having other drinks is far safer (except in underdeveloped countries) even than the alcohol back then. I feel the eating meat and the fruits and vegetable sections are also outdated to an extent because of modern food science.

  5. I suspect that “one drink a day” is probably healthy. I also suspect that it’s risky because it’s difficult to stop at one.

    So in my mind, the WoW is the better (less risky) way to go. And if you really want the “benefits” of drinking in moderation, there are non-risky alternatives.

  6. I have always been thankful for the prohibition against drinking alcohol contained in the Word of Wisdom.

    As an active volunteer in law enforcement, I have worked too many motor vehicle accidents involving alcohol. I recall the strong reaction one drunk driver who learned he had killed a bicyclist with his car. When I read the scripture in Luke 22:62 about Peter weeping bitterly, I think of this young man’s reaction. It was a night I will never forget.

  7. I find it interesting to read studies that support the Word of Wisdom. But I do not keep the Word of Wisdom because of studies, because honesty would then demand that I stop keeping the WoW once the majority of studies say it is unhealthy to follow the WoW. I follow the WoW because of faith.

  8. Jettboy: from what you linked to: “The average person age 14 and older drinks 2.18 gallons of alcohol a year.” 2.2 gallons = 282 oz = 0.77 oz/day. Since a standard drink contains 0.6 oz of pure alcohol, it looks like on average Americans drink right within the moderate level these studies are talking about (1-2 drinks per day). (Of course, since some Americans consume much more than their share of alcohol, in reality the “average American” consumes much less than the 1-2 drinks per day.) Thus, based on that link, it is not accurate to say that “more than the above recommended glasses a day is far more likely.”

    And I hate to be a big stick in the mud by continually asking for references, but I also have to question this claim: ” Up until recently it was safer to drink watered down alcohol than just water.”

    As for sections of the WoW being more relevant at the time it was given, I fully agree with you there.

  9. Lets just put it this way: I have never, not ever, known anyone who drinks to be casual about the habit. In fact, even if they are casual drinkers that isn’t always the case every time. I personally wouldn’t mind seeing statistics that prove most people who drink do so casually. I understand what you are saying about the statistics, but not everyone in the United States drinks. A large percentage might even drink during lunch and dinner only a few glasses, but that doesn’t mean it is the only times. where do most people drink? Bars and parties where there is a lot of alcohol flowing. Frankly, from my personal experiences I would like to see some statistics that prove most people don’t drink in excess.

    depends on how much you believe in wikipedia, but from drinking culture:

    “Some studies have noted traditional, cultural differences between Northern and Southern Europe. A difference in perception may also account to some extent for historically noted cultural differences: Northern Europeans drink beer, which in the past was often of a low alcohol content (2.5% compared to today’s 5%). In pre-industrial society, beer being boiled and alcohol was safer to drink than water. Southern Europeans drink wine and fortified wines (10-20% alcohol by volume).”

    This person also near the same thing about Puritans rather drinking alcohol than water.

    Discussions aboutJesus drinking always end up stating, “The alcohol in the wine meant it was safer than water when in a city. (Alcohol kills bacteria.)” Basically, nothing I have said is not at least considered common knowledge, although that isn’t always the best basis of facts. Other history books I have read seem to make similar conclusions no matter what age they are talking about.

  10. I appreciate the answer, but it doesn’t do anything to address the problem: you are basing your conclusions on facts that are not supported. The articles you link to, including the one on Wikipedia, offer no sources for their claims. Maybe Josephus says something about clean drinking water versus beer, or Pliny, or whoever. But for now, there is nothing indicating that the claims on the sites you found aren’t just made up.

    On the other hand, there are numerous examples from history where governments went to great lengths to build aqueducts or wells to bring clean, safe drinking water into their cities, not to mention ancient water filters and other treatments. I can certainly see how sailing Puritans—or anyone on a boat—would find it easier to drink beer from a barrel rather than boiling water every day, but that’s a pretty limited case.

    “Lets just put it this way: I have never, not ever, known anyone who drinks to be casual about the habit.” Yet, my anecdotal evidence contradicts this, because nearly everyone I know (who is not a college student) who drinks does so in moderation. And the only numbers we can find support the conclusion that most Americans who drink, do so in moderation.

    “Basically, nothing I have said is not at least considered common knowledge….” I hate to ask, but how do you know it is common knowledge?

  11. I think it all comes down to free will, deciding what’s best for you.
    I personally like the Word of Wisdom, and I didn’t have a problem with it because I’ve never been a drinker (because my dad’s side of the family are alcoholics, and I’ve seen them drunk. Not pretty.), I’m actually allergic to smoke, I love veggies and fruit, I drink lots of water, I exercise…I think it’s a promotion of a healthier lifestyle because a healthy body does produce good feelings and spiritually, you have a clearer mind and have a closer connection to the Spirit because the main idea is that our bodies are a temple, and should be treated with care.
    I think the WoW is relevant, even when considering its historical context. I think alcohol consumption is risky, especially these days when there’s so much pressure and irresponsibility attached to it, even for mature adults. It’s so easy to slip into that abyss of addiction.
    Ultimately, I think it comes down to choice.

  12. “I hate to ask, but how do you know it is common knowledge?”

    Hate to say, but if you don’t know why I do then you didn’t read my comments.

    “And the only numbers we can find support the conclusion that most Americans who drink, do so in moderation.”

    I don’t believe those numbers show what you think they do. They are misleading and have no actual context (how many people involved, how many people turn into alcoholics, how may binge between moderation, etc.) to draw conclusions. Regardless of who is right in the moderation debate, the truth is that even moderation is unhealthy as the above study quoted in the post explains.

  13. {Sigh} “They are misleading and have no actual context…”

    They are numbers from your link!

    “I don’t believe those numbers show what you think they do.”

    You’ve already established in this thread that you will tell us what you believe, but what I’m asking for are reasons for me to believe what you believe. Dismissing numbers (that you linked to) without an explanation doesn’t do that. What is your alternative explanation for those numbers that would turn them around to supporting your claim that “having more than the above recommended glasses a day is far more likely”?

    “Regardless of who is right in the moderation debate, the truth is that even moderation is unhealthy.”

    Therefore, the WoW is no longer “vindicated,” as stated in the title of this post, but rather it is implicated because it promotes drinking alcohol in beer (albeit, in moderation).

  14. So, let me get this right, you think that the Word of Wisdom actually allows for drinking wine and beer? I can see how you can come up with that, but it depends on interpretations. What, exactly is “strong drinks,” for instance. What does fresh wine from the vine and mild drinks mean? Do they really have to be alcoholic beverages? Perhaps the modern interpretation of the Word of Wisdom as taught by current prophets has been vindicated? I will concede you have made me rethink the meaning of the Word of Wisdom, but not my beliefs on the unhealthy and risky consumption of them.

  15. Thanks for the response. I think the case for beer is pretty clear: there is only one meaning for “mild drinks.” Wine and other alcohols…well verse 5 says “no” even if verse 6 says the right way to make wine. Likewise, there is only one meaning for “strong drinks.” Thus, I think it’s clear that the WoW originally said “yes” to beer and “no” to all other alcohol.

    “Perhaps the modern interpretation of the Word of Wisdom as taught by current prophets has been vindicated?” That’s probably a better way to put it. But as you say, scientists are still figuring all of this out, so it’s premature (although, that never stops news outlets!) to look for vindication from science just yet. Just today I read an article about the benefits of drinking alcohol to inhibit Notch signaling—and it is specifically the alcohol, not the resveratrol or other compounds in alcoholic beverages, that does it.

    “but not my beliefs on the unhealthy and risky consumption of them.” That’s good. I’ve never advocated that anyone drink alcohol. I think it’s interesting that the WoW originally had a little “opening” there, but I don’t live in 1840.

    Thanks for the discussion. If you’re ever up this way, I’ll buy you a beer! ;)

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