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With Moderate Drinking Under Fire, Alcohol Companies Go on Offensive

At a brewers’ conference this spring, an alcohol lobbyist fired a warning shot in what has become a multimillion-dollar global battle, reports The Wall Street Journal. Public-health officials “want to tell you that alcohol causes cancer,” Sarah Longwell, managing director of the American Beverage Institute, told the crowd. The industry, she said, was in danger of losing its “health halo.”

Total recorded alcohol per capita consumption, in liters of pure alcohol Credit
Total recorded alcohol per capita consumption, in liters of pure alcohol. Credit

For decades, beer, wine and liquor producers have been helped by a notion, enshrined in a number of governments’ dietary advice, that a little alcohol can provide modest coronary and other health benefits. Rapidly, that advice is shifting as health-policy officials around the world scrutinize their previous advice in the light of research pointing to possible cancer risks.