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Alcohol and health: individual and population perspectives

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This paper summarizes the relationships between alcohol consumption and health from both the individual and the population perspectives. On the individual level adverse consequences of alcohol consumption on mortality, morbidity and social harm are summarized. The potential health benefits of drinking are listed next, especially in the context of trying to balance positive and negative consequences. Even though the final decision rests with the individual it is suggested that from a health perspective light drinking on a regular basis is most advisable. In terms of advice to populations it should be noted that, due to the mutual interdependence of drinking behaviour in a society, the average individual consumption associated with the lowest individual risk is not necessarily the average per capita consumption associated with the lowest population risk. Thus, research at the population level has to be integrated with individual epidemiological research in order to come up with the best advice for the population in any given society.

Document Type: Research Article

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1046/j.1360-0443.92.3s1.2.x

Publication date: March 1, 1997

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