Ought low alcohol intake to be promoted for health reasons

D'Arcy Holman, D.R. English

Research output: Contribution to journalLiterature review

15 Citations (Scopus)


There is increasingly widespread acceptance that alcohol taken in moderation by the population aged 35 years or older reduces the risks of ischaemic heart disease and all-cause mortality. Ten causal criteria are used to evaluate the scientific evidence for a protective effect of low alcohol intake on ischaemic heart disease. Inferences for public policy are then assessed using the principles of beneficence, non-maleficence, justice and autonomy to support a framework of nine ethical considerations: intervention versus causation; effect modification by gender, smoking, biogenetic and other factors; inappropriate adoption of recommendations; competing hazards between atherosclerotic disease and cancer; opportunity cost; equity of access; the value system used to judge outcomes; the adequate scientific knowledge and informed community debate it is unethical to promote low alcohol intake as a degree of social influence warranted; and consent and responsibility. We conclude that in the absence of more preventive health measure.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)123-129
JournalJournal of the Royal Society of Medicine
Publication statusPublished - 1996


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