Take your pick – booze or cabbage water – but be very aware of how your sperm count might be affected

She's from the cabbage school of thinking.

You can go along with oldies who champion the regular consumption of cabbage water for ensuring longevity, if that’s what you fancy.

Alf is much more inclined to support (and live by) the findings of American researchers who have reinforced the theory that a tipple a day is good for your health.

That’s a tipple of something alcoholic, although it is somewhat disquieting to learn the findings apply only to women.

He was not surprised that some New Zealand academics question the idea.

Their namby-pamby thinking reinfoces the zeal of the wowsers who want to push the price of booze to prohibitive levels to discourage its consumption by the minority of trouble-makers in the community who binge on the stuff.

We can put Labour associate justice spokeswoman Lianne Dalziel in this camp, it seems. She is quoted as saying Labour advocates toughening the Alcohol Reform Bill by imposing minimum legal prices for standard drinks and further restrictions on alcohol advertising.

But hey.

Let’s get into the good news.

The NZ Herald reports today that Harvard University researchers checked the health at age 70 or older of nearly 14,000 women who were part of the long-running Nurses’ Health Study, and related it back to their drinking in their late 50s.

They found that regular “moderate” alcohol consumption during middle age was associated in later life with good overall health, such as being free of cognitive impairment and chronic conditions such as heart disease.

Women who had drunk 5g to 30g of alcohol a day – half to three standard drinks in New Zealand measurements – had a 20 to 30 per cent greater chance than non-drinkers of having good overall health when older.

Alf was delighted to learn New Zealand guidelines recommend a maximum of three standard drinks a day for men, two for women.

Australia recommends no more than two for men and women.

He was delighted, too, to find the Harvard study found the greatest benefit, at around 50 per cent, was for people who drank on most days.

“The data suggests that regular, moderate consumption of alcohol at mid-life may be related to a modest increase in overall health status,” the researchers say in the journal Proceedings of the Library of Science, Medicine.

But then came the jolt to his enthusiasm for science.

These findings relate only to middle-aged women, not men, because of the “distinct health effect of alcohol between men and women”.

Oh, and the idea that moderate drinking may be good for health has been increasingly questioned, including by New Zealand epidemiologists Professors Jennie Connor and Rod Jackson, who challenged the theory in Britain’s Lancet journal in 2005.

Professor Connor, of Otago University, told the Science Media Centre the Harvard study added nothing to the many similar studies that were “unreliable for answering questions about the health effects of drinking because of their design”.

The supposed health benefit might be due to differences in lifestyle – other than drinking – that were associated with being a low-risk drinker.

“It may be true that women who drink one drink a day are healthier than others, but we do not know if it has anything to do with the alcohol, as these women are not the same as others in a variety of ways.”

These academics are saying there is no scientific justification for the promotion of alcohol as health-enhancing for any sub-group of the population.

“The potential for harm is great, and the potential for good is unknown.”

So why don’t the buggers get down to some deep research to make the potential for good better known.

Alf is willing to volunteer his services, if they are prepared to pick up the tab for the drinking that will be essential to the credibility of their research.

And if booze is not your thing, then you are commended to follow the the example of a couple in Britian who put 70 years of wedded bliss down to

… a weekly glass of CABBAGE WATER

Len, 93, and Irene Brown, 91, from Bristol, have revealed that a cup of cabbage water with Sunday lunch has kept them together for 70 years

The Daily Mail said cabbage is known for its health benefits and became popular with dieters in the eighties.

A string of celebrities from Liz Hurley to Joanna Lumley opted for low-calorie cabbage soup.

It hasn’t done Hurley much good. Look who she has landed as a bed mate?

But Len and Irene reckon the purifying water which they enjoy on a regular basis has added years to their lives.

Len said: ‘Every Sunday we always have cabbage with our Sunday lunch and have a glass of water the cabbage was cooked in. I have had that since I was knee-high.

‘My mum always said it purified the blood. I told the doctor the other day and he said that may well be right.’

Ah, but what did cabbage water do for Len’s sperm count.

Take note of the bit of the story that says –

Although the couple have never had children, they are kept busy by their nieces and nephews and enjoy socialising at local groups and clubs.

Another thing: did the reporter ask them about their liquor intake?

Maybe they take a small tipple of scotch each day, and maybe the scotch is the reason why they are clebrating 70 years of wedded bliss.

And while we all know of the preservative qualities of alcohol, look what happens to a pot of cabbage water if you leave it for a few weeks.

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