Dr Rajiv Desai

An Educational Blog


Today, I will discuss the most controversial topic for about 12000 years,namely, Alcohol.The alcohol is consumed by 80 % of people at some time in their lives.
Alcohol or Ethanol or Ethyl Alcohol is defined as an organic compound composed of carbon,hydrogen and oxygen atoms with the molecular configuration as CH3CH2OH.
I will not discuss other alcohols like methyl alcohol,propyl alcohol etc etc.
The human beings have been consuming alcohol in various alcoholic beverages since 10000 year BC….
I wrote my thesis on alcohol in the year 1986 for my MD exam and concluded that the life-span of a heavy alcoholic is reduced by 12 years; and one out of six deaths in a government hospital is related to alcoholism.I was novice and naive then and the sample size of my study was limited.
Whisky is a short form of usquebaugh where uisce means water and bethad means of life.Whisky means water of life.
The word Alcohol in english language is derived from arabic language word Al-Gawl where gawl in arabic means spirit or ghost.
Alcohol is produced from fermentation of sugar which is derived from starch or other carbohydrates.Alcohol is a vegetarian drink because it is produced from potatoes,fruits,grains,sugarcanes etc etc
Alcoholic beverages are beer,wine and spirit(liquor).
The beer contains 4-6 % alcohol.
The wine contains 9-16 % alcohol.
The spirit(whisky,rum,gin,vodka) contains 40 % alcohol.
The specific gravity of alcohol is 0.78 and therefore 100 ml of alcohol weighs 78 grams.
One gram of alcohol gives 7 k.cal of energy to body.
One american drink means 17.7 ml of pure alcohol by volume which is 13.8 grams of alcohol which is present in 340 ml of beer or 115 ml of wine or 45 ml of whisky.
One british unit-drink means 10 ml of pure alcohol.One pint beer has 2 units and 25 ml of whisky has one unit.
Interestingly, alcohol is produced in every human being in their intestines by bacteria which produce alcohol as a waste product of their respiration,albeit in small amounts.
Besides alcohol,the congeners found along with alcohol like methanol,aldehyde,histamin,phenols,lead,etc also pose health hazards.
There are some medical reports suggest that one drink of alcohol per day reduces incidence of heart attacks and strokes due to alcohol effect on blood clotting mechanism but even low dose alcohol significantly affects many organ systems and adversely affects many pre-existing diseases in addition to it’s addicting potential giving rise to alcohol abuse and alcohol dependence.Therefore, nobody should advise a non-alcoholic to drink alcohol for health benefit.
If a woman drinks more than one alcoholic drink or a man drinks more than two alcoholic drinks per day,they are labelled as heavy drinkers as per american guidelines.Anything less than that is social drinking.
1)Alcohol causes damage to liver,brain,heart,nerves,blood,muscles,foetus etc etc besides responsible for many cancers.
2)Alcoholism is associated with malnutrition and vitamin deficiencies.
3)Alcoholics are more prone to TB,HIV etc.
4)Alcoholics are more prone to be associated with criminal activities.
5)Alcohol withdrawl or intoxication is associated with violence.
6)Alcohol abuse and drunken driving is responsible for vehicular accidents.In america, anything above 80 mgs of alcohol per 100 ml of blood is legal intoxication limit.However,in practice,even as low as 20 mgm of alcohol per 100 ml of blood causes poor judgement in driving.
Alcohol and Religion:
Islam forbids alcohol consumption as per Holy Quran.Buddhist also forbids alcohol consumption.
Christianity and Jewish religious ceremonies use alcohol in moderation.Hindu mythological Gods used to drink alcoholic beverages like Sura or Somras.The process of fermentation to extract alcohol from fruits existed 10000 years BC.
Brazil,the fifth largest country,doesnot import oil but uses alcohol as a fuel in their 50% cars which is environment friendly as carbon dioxide is used by sugarcane farms.
My person experience as a doctor:
After working in many government and municipality hospitals in India which cater to poor people and low-middle-class people; I have seen hundreds of alcoholics dying due to alcohol abuse.The family of an alcoholic is destroyed with their daughters not getting married and their sons becoming alcoholics and criminals.
There is a widespread conspiracy by the politicians,the media and the liquor-lobby to allow the production,the sale and the distribution of alcohol all over the world.
1)Alcohol is evil for human consumption.
2)Alcohol destroys the family.
3)There is no safe limit for alcohol consumption.
4) I support prohibition of alcohol-use for human consumption except for bonafide medical use.The prohibition may lead to illegal trade and liquor-mafia but still it is worth it.
5)Alcohol use as a fuel for cars must be encouraged.
Dr.Rajiv Desai.MD.
POSTSCRIPT: My comments on alcohol will not be liked by the people,the majority of whom do consume alcohol but I am willing to sacrifice my popularity for a good cause in my view.

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