Full text: The alcohol problem

CHAPTER VIII 
THE INFLUENCE OF ALCOHOL ON LONGEVITY 
Introduction—The Influence of Excessive Indulgence in Alcohol— 
Alcoholism in Various Social Classes—The Evidence from Life 
Insurance Offices—Does Moderate Drinking Affect Longevity ? 
—The Racial Effect of Alcohol-—The Influence of Alcohol on 
Industrial Efficiency. 
INTRODUCTION. 
THE influence of alcohol on longevity is a matter of 
interest to everyone, as it has a direct and practical 
bearing on the duration of a man’s own life. The 
question has been discussed at length on many occa- 
sions for many years past, and large masses of statistics 
relating to it have been gradually accumulated, more 
especially by Life Insurance Societies. The inter- 
pretation of this evidence is found to be by no means 
easy, even at the hands of statistical experts, and at 
times the statisticians flatly contradict one another. 
However, it is necessary to examine the evidence at 
some length, and determine, if we can, what portions 
of it can be accepted as thoroughly reliable. We shall 
find eventually that we can definitely accept only two 
conclusions, one of which is obvious to everyone, apart 
from all statistics. This certain conclusion is to the 
effect that excessive indulgence in alcoholic liquors 
shortens the duration of life. The second conclusion 
is a most unsatisfactory one. It concerns the question 
to which all of us desire a definite answer, namely, 
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