Changing public attitudes towards alcohol is a long-term process
DRINK “ON – NORTHERN”
Russia is one of the countries with the so-called “northern model” of alcohol consumption. This means that the majority of the population drinks alcoholic beverages in large doses and often abuses strong alcohol. The Baltic countries, Belarus, Ukraine are in the same group with us. While in the “southern model” (Greece, Spain, Italy, France), people raise their glasses, though quite often, but they drink a little and mostly dry red wine.
International studies show that as early as 30 ml of ethanol per day, an increase in mortality begins. This amount of ethanol contains 90 g of vodka, 800 ml of beer or a large glass of wine. However, even less alcohol is harmful to health, causing severe chronic diseases (see below) and reducing the quality of life, experts warn.
– Today it has already been clearly proven that there are no absolutely safe doses of alcohol. Alcohol has a toxic effect at the cellular level, it can damage DNA, causing dangerous mutations. Therefore, the updated standards of the World Health Organization provide: a healthy lifestyle, ideally, is a complete exclusion of alcohol, – explained in a conversation with “KP” expert of the Graduate School of Healthcare Management of the Sechenov University, Candidate of Medical Sciences Artem Gil.
The maximum reduction in the consumption of alcoholic beverages is one of the main goals of the national project “Demography”, which includes the federal project “Strengthening public health”. Motivation for a healthy lifestyle, giving up bad habits, such as smoking and alcohol abuse, will reduce morbidity and mortality from all major causes, experts emphasize. At the same time, the reduction in alcohol consumption is considered as one of the powerful reserves for reducing the mortality rate of the working-age population and preserving labor resources. Refusal from alcohol will strengthen and preserve the health of the country’s residents, therefore anti-alcohol measures are among the priority areas of work of the Ministry of Health of Russia in 2021.
ZERO IS THE BEST DEGREE FOR LIFE
According to the WHO, about 3 million people die every year in the world due to excessive alcohol consumption. The biggest losses are among people of working age: 20-39 years. In Russia, at least 12% of deaths are somehow related to alcohol abuse. Among the diseases, a powerful contribution to the development of which is made by ethanol, are diseases-leaders in the premature mortality of Russians: cardiovascular (heart attacks, strokes), oncological, diabetes.
– Changing public attitudes towards alcohol is a long-term process. Our example shows that this is possible. From 2008 to 2020, alcohol consumption in Russia decreased from 15.7 to 9.1 liters of ethanol per capita. Mortality from accidental alcohol poisoning from 2008 to 2020 decreased by 60%, – said Russian Minister of Health Mikhail Murashkospeaking at the session of the WHO Regional Committee for Europe in September this year.
Now our country is taking further steps towards the formation of a healthy lifestyle, said the head of the Russian Ministry of Health. The national project “Demography” stipulates that in order to maintain health, the ability to have children, work capacity and prolong an active life, one should strive to minimize the consumption of alcoholic beverages. “Zero is the best degree for life!” – this motto is proposed to be guided by leading scientists and doctors today.
Photo: Dmitry POLUKHIN
How ethanol hits the heart, brain, and other organs
Toxic decomposition products of alcohol cause damage to the epithelium, that is, the inner lining of our blood vessels, cardiologists explain. Because of this, inflammation develops, which leads to an increase in cholesterol on the walls of blood vessels. Their lumen narrows, the risk of blood clots forming and detaching them increases. And this is the path to heart attacks and strokes. So, if explained briefly and simplified, ethanol inflicts its main blow on the cardiovascular system.
If a person already has hypertension, atherosclerosis, any “problems” with the heart, then even a single consumption of a large dose of alcohol can lead to a heart attack, he warned in an interview with “KP” Doctor of Medical Sciences, Professor-Cardiologist Philip Kopylov… Doctors call it “holiday heart syndrome” because people often take the highest doses of alcohol on holidays.
– Ethanol, once in our body, starts a process of several stages. First, there is the so-called vasodilation, that is, vasodilation, – explained Professor Kopylov. – The heart receives an increased volume of blood, which increases the load on the heart muscle. Then comes vasoconstriction, that is, vasoconstriction and spasm. In hypertensive patients, this can be accompanied by a dangerous surge in blood pressure. The third stage is complete vasodilation, that is, maximum relaxation up to loss of consciousness. Occurs in case of excessive alcohol consumption.
Not without the influence of ethanol and in starting the development of malignant tumors. “To date, the connection between alcohol consumption and cancer has been proven not only of the liver, but also of the breast, lung, bladder, prostate, uterus, pancreas,” he said in one of his speeches. Chief Oncologist of the Ministry of Health of Russia, Academician of the Russian Academy of Sciences Andrey Kaprin… The poisonous decay products of ethanol cause mutations in cells. And if a young, strong, healthy organism is capable of detecting and eliminating unfavorable changes up to a certain limit, then with age, the probability of timely control and correction of “breakdowns” decreases. And the risk of developing cancer with alcohol consumption increases accordingly.
In general, today it is known that alcohol abuse makes a significant contribution to the development of about 200 types of diseases, including neurodegenerative diseases of the nervous system (Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, etc.).
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Photo: Dmitry POLUKHIN