Alcohol Myth vs. Fact (02:35)
Recent U.K. guidelines suggest no amount of alcohol is safe, and studies are increasingly linking it to cancer. Citizens respond to true or false statements about alcohol's effects on the mind and body. In this film, Dr. Javid Abdelmoneim will discover the latest science about alcohol and conduct experiments with volunteers.
Alcohol Consumption Experiment (03:42)
The U.K. government advises 14 units of alcohol per week or less. Javid is fitted with a sweat measuring device to monitor how much he drinks weekly, supplemented with a video diary. The results show he consumes 25 units over three days.
Alcohol and Liver Damage (02:55)
According to the NHS, drinking above the weekly recommended limit increases risk of cirrhosis. Dr. Gautam Mehta scans Javid's liver for stiffness. Genes, diet, weight, and alcohol consumption are disease factors. See how alcohol units are distributed in wine, beer, and whisky.
Pub Lab (04:15)
To investigate the effects of alcohol on the brain, Javid's team tests London bar patrons on balance and coordination. Dr. Antony Moss discusses how we lose motor control while inebriated. Experiment stations also show that alcohol makes multi-tasking difficult, numbs pain, and makes us feel deceptively warm.
Alcohol Tolerance (04:53)
Javid meets five volunteers with a range of tolerances. How drunk we feel depends on blood alcohol concentrations; water in the body dilutes alcohol. Researchers measure body volume and muscle mass to determine individual water level. Volunteers with more water take longer to become inebriated.
Alcohol Appetite Experiment (05:03)
Hear calories contained in whisky, wine, and beer. Research suggests alcohol tricks us into eating more. Members of two sports teams drink alcoholic and non-alcoholic beer and are served bar snacks. The group drinking alcohol consumes 34% more food calories than the non-alcohol group.
"Diluting" Alcohol with Food (04:04)
Lining the stomach with food is thought to slow alcohol absorption. Javid and Natalie each have a glass of wine— Natalie on an empty stomach and Javid with a meal. They use breathalyzers to monitor blood alcohol levels throughout the evening. Stomach enzymes begin the liver's work; Javid's readings are consistently lower than Natalie's.
Red Wine Health Benefits (02:48)
The French paradox suggests that polyphenols in red wine mitigate the negative effects of saturated fat. Medical researchers measure Javid's blood vessel dilation before and after a glass. His arm artery dilates more after drinking, decreasing blood pressure.
Polyphenols Study (03:57)
Red wine is potentially good for the heart. Javid and Wendy test six wines for polyphenol content. In general, the darker the wine, the more polyphenols it contains— they are also found in walnuts, dark chocolate, apples, tea, and other foods and beverages.
Night Caps as a Sleep Aid (05:37)
Over five million British people take night caps, but alcohol becomes increasingly disruptive to sleep as we age. Researchers fit Javid with electrodes to measure his brain waves while sleeping after a double whisky. He experiences initial deep sleep followed by wakefulness, indicating less rest.
Hangover Cures (02:17)
There has been little research into alcohol remedies, but borage supplements or a fried breakfast are thought to be effective. Volunteers will test both.
Hangover Cure Experiment (05:29)
Brewery employees are split into three groups. One takes borage beforehand, one consumes a fried breakfast afterwards, and the third is a control group. After all volunteers reach a .10 BAC, the borage group has fewer hangovers than the breakfast or control groups.
There is no evidence that mixing drinks worsens hangovers, but some drinks might cause worse hangovers than others. Brewer Alex Arkell explains that yeast cells excrete byproducts during fermentation that contribute to flavor, but may increase drinking after-effects.
Congener Study (02:37)
Javid and chemist Jon Griffin analyze ten popular U.K. drinks for fermentation byproducts contributing to hangovers. Brandy and red wine have the most; cider, lager, whisky and white wine are in the mid-range; and rum, gin, and vodka have the least.
Alcohol as a Carcinogen (04:02)
New U.K. alcohol guidelines say any amount of consumption carries health risks. Chief medical officer Dame Sally Davies explains the link between alcohol and breast cancer. Women age 55 and older experience heart protection by drinking 5 units per week.
Alcohol Investigation Conclusions (00:55)
Javid has learned that alcohol is not good for sleep, alcohol stimulates the appetite, and lining the stomach with food before drinking is a good idea. British drinkers should consider alcohol health risks.
Credits: The Truth About Alcohol (00:46)
Credits: The Truth About Alcohol
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