Whisky and your health
Some scientists believe that whiskey may be one of the keys to preventing the Big C.
For a quite a number of years, liquor has been known not only to bring destructive intoxication and addiction upon its patrons, but also as deterrent to a healthy lifestyle. But as a potential weapon against cancer? Sounds controversial.
Rumors that single malt whiskey may be a tool to combat cancer have begun circulating recently. Whether it actually holds any water has yet to be proven. According to one of the theory’s proponents, a consultant to the whiskey industry, Dr. Jim Swan, the antioxidants present in whiskey, particularly ellagic acid, can reduce the risk of developing cancer, since this acid fights the unstable atoms that aid in rapid cell replication. He added that the more cells were produced, the more likely that rogue cancer cells will be born. “Whiskey can protect you from cancer and science proves it,” he said, speaking at the EuroMedLab 2005 conference in Glasgow. Dr Swan explained that ellagic acid, which is in greater concentration in whiskey than in red wine, breaks down the harmful free radicals present in our body.
However, Cancer Research UK remains unconvinced. The agency has raised concerns that what Dr Swan and his supporters are pushing might mislead consumers into drinking excessive amounts of whiskey just to avoid cancer. Cancer Research noted that liquor intake can eventually lead to certain kinds of cancer, such as those in the esophagus, throat, mouth, bowel and liver. Dr Swan’s idea that whiskey can prevent cancer also received criticism, owing mostly to an absence of population data supporting them. Contrariwise, according to the agency’s head of cancer information Lesley Walker, there exists evidence that high alcohol consumption does increase cancer risks. Ms Walker noted that while ellagic acid is a formidable antioxidant and may greatly aid in the fight against cancer, its presence in whiskey is not reason enough for people to begin drinking up, especially as ellagic acid can also be found in certain fruits.
The concept that a certain type of alcohol may help deter cancer is novel and, for frequent drinkers, even noble. What liquor patron would ignore this theory? But, still, Dr Swan’s ideas remain untested and there does not exist any known positive link between whiskey and cancer. If there would be something that suggest this is true sometime in the future, then it will be considered revolutionary. However, in the absence of adequate information at present, whiskey as a deterrent to cancer is a dubious thought. While we all hope and pray that an alternative treatment to cancer will surface soon, this is probably not the time to become this optimistic about whiskey’s alleged benefits.