Alcohol Consumption & Life
For some reason, by concealing the
statistics about their per capita alcohol consumption, many governments around the world
have made it difficult to discover the facts about the benefits of drinking alcohol.
The few sources that are available differ from each other by up to 50%. For
example, Alcoweb on the internet reports that Australia's annual per capita alcohol
consumption in 1995 was 7.6 liters, whereas EB (the Encyclopedia Britannica) reported it
to be 11.8 in 1968, a 55% differential. The difference for the US is 48% (6.8 vs.
10.1), for Italy is 41% (8.8 vs. 15), for New Zealand is 35% (7 vs. 10.7). Is it
possible that alcohol consumption decreased by that much, and if so, what were the
In order to get an objective view
of the benefits of alcohol consumption to the well being of society, and to remove the
possibility of being biased by advocacy organizations and advocacy governments, an average
between these two different sources is compared to the known life expectancy of 28
countries. This way, much of the inflammatory rhetoric surrounding this
controversial issue, wherein doctors are advising patients to reduce alcohol consumption
when it's proven that this greatly increases the risk of heart disease, can be bypassed.
Data about male life expectancy
and alcohol consumption which are available from these countries are correlated to create
a straight line that presumes a linear relationship between these two factors. This
is not intended as proof that there's a linear relationship, because there are too many
other factors at work. The goal is to provide a framework from which to question the
available statistics on alcohol consumption. For example, Austria's alcohol
consumption is reported by Alcoweb at 9.8 liters and by EB at 14.4 liters. It would
be expected that today's life expectancy might be based on the average between these
two figures of 12.1, or at least some number in between. The linear projections
shows that Austria's male life expectancy of 74.3 years would fit the projection at 11.6
liters, close enough to the average to believe this is a valid figure.
Similarly, the average for Germany
is 11.7 which fits the projection at 11.3. For Italy, the average is 11.9 which fits
the projection at 12.6, for Spain 11.5 vs. 11.3, Switzerland 11.2 vs. 13, and the US 8.5
Once this linear projection is
established, each country's anticipated alcohol consumption based on its life expectancy
can be compared to the data it reports. If this difference is large, we can then
investigate the possibility that the consumption figures have not been reported correctly
for some reason, and compare that to the possibility that alcohol consumption in that
country actually did change significantly in 3 only the last three decades.