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Just how far will the alcohol industry go to protect its profits?

Alcohol industry

(NaturalNews) Most everyone knows that the alcohol industry makes billions of dollars per year in profits, but not everyone knows just how far the industry is willing to go in terms of the harm it inflicts on societies worldwide in order to protect those profits.

New research from the International Alcohol Control study, coordinated by Massey University in New Zealand, measured the extent that the alcohol industry depends on the harmful use of its products in order to generate profits, reports Medical Xpress.

Prof. Sally Casswell is director of The SHORE and Whariki Research Centre and lead author of the study titled, "How the Alcohol Industry Relies on Harmful Use of Alcohol and Works to Protect Its Profits," which was published recently in the peer-reviewed journal Drug and Alcohol Review.

Casswell said that public health researchers and those advocating for better health practices are growing increasingly concerned about the behavior of the alcohol industry, and that is especially the case for the powerful global alcohol corporations, in the overall development of alcohol use policies.

"The industry consistently lobbies against effective policy and, as in the recent case in Scotland with minimum unit price, successfully holds up or completely blocks policy that would reduce alcohol-related harm," she said.

Alcohol industry bears some responsibility

Casswell added that her analysis of global alcohol policy makes clear that there is a conflict of interest between global alcohol corporations and the public health sector in a way that is similar to the tobacco industry.

She said that her results came from five different countries: New Zealand, Australia, Mongolia, Vietnam and Thailand. All showed a similar pattern, according to her analysis.

Overall, she concluded, more than half – 59 percent – of the alcohol consumed was done during binge drinking situations, which she classified as eight or more drinks for men and six or more for women.

The study found that the alcohol industry actually relies on the harmful use of alcohol to sustain its sales and its profits, so "we should not be surprised by the extent to which they go to protect these," Casswell said, noting that a "stronger response" by governments around the world is needed to lower incidents of harm caused by drinking.

One idea, say advocates, is to lower the strength of alcoholic beverages. A separate study published in August by the Institute for Mental Health Policy Research at the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH) in Toronto, Canada, found that a small reduction in alcohol content could save scores of lives.

"The idea is that a small reduction in alcohol - such as beer with four per cent ethanol content versus six per cent - would reduce alcohol intake per drinker even if the same overall amount of beverage is consumed," says Dr. Jurgen Rehm, lead author of the study, as reported by Medical Xpress.

Partiers can't distinguish between higher and lower alcohol content

The reduction in the most harmful ingredient in alcohol – ethanol – would likely lead to lower blood alcohol levels in drinkers, which could reduce immediate harm like injuries or accidents caused while someone is under the influence. It could also reduce alcohol-related chronic diseases that occur over time with regular, excessive alcohol consumption, like cancer or cirrhosis of the liver.

And in fact, the researchers noted, there is even more incentive for the alcohol industry to align itself with proposals to lower alcohol levels in beverages, because that proposal is better than other policy measures such as higher taxes on liquor, reducing access and further marketing restrictions. Also, they say that the industry holds some responsibility for its products.

"We know from experiments that consumers can't distinguish between beers of different strengths," Rehm said. He noted that in one study, which took place at three college fraternity parties, the amount party-goers drank did not differ between weaker versus stronger drinks. In another study, he said, most drink participants could not distinguish between beers of different strengths.

Obviously the best way to remain healthy is to avoid alcohol and boost your intake of superfoods. But if you do partake of liquor, limit your consumption.





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