Alcohol and Canadian Health

  •  James McIntosh    


BACKGROUND: The role of alcohol use as a cause of disease and a determinant of individual health has been examined by a large number of researchers and is an important policy issue.

METHODS: The effect of alcohol use on the four most important diseases that afflict Canadians is examined by applying finite mixture probability models to data from the 2011-12 Canadian Community Health Survey. The effect on self-reported health is also considered.

RESULTS: Regular drinking behaviour is shown to be associated with lower probabilities of having diabetes, coronary heart disease, or stroke, although it may lead to a higher probability of having cancer for some sub-populations. The net prophylactic effect of moderate alcohol use on diseases diseases other than cancer is positive and significant. Men and women in all age groups report higher health status scores as a result of regular alcohol use. Regular drinking also leads to fewer doctor visits.

CONCLUSIONS: The fears and apprehension expressed by so many health researchers ignore the substantial beneficial effects that regular drinkers experience. Alcohol policy should therefore be less repressive more sympathetic to consumer wants.

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