Honors College Thesis

 

Everything in Moderation : A Study of the Effects of Alcohol Consumption on Health from Local and International Perspectives Public

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  • The consumption of alcohol has been shown to have effects on health that are both harmful and therapeutic, depending on the amount that is consumed. Alcohol’s effects can be damaging to the body in excess but, in moderation, can act as a protectant against certain conditions. The two studies discussed in this thesis seek to further explore the outcomes of alcohol use, in both moderate and heavy quantities, on health. The first study used a local data set from Oregon to investigate the effects of moderate alcohol consumption on cognitive decline and how these effects vary between males and females. Statistical analysis was conducted with mixed-effect models. The results confirmed that alcohol in moderation is protective against cognitive decline and suggested that alcohol affects the brains of males and females in fundamentally different ways. Although moderate alcohol consumption appears to be protective in both sexes, men experience greater benefit from moderate alcohol use. The second study used international data sets to analyze the worldwide relationship between alcohol and health, focusing on alcohol’s effects on liver cirrhosis, alcohol abuse, and dementia. Plots comparing measures of alcohol consumption and health from countries around the globe were analyzed for trends. The results indicated that: rates of liver cirrhosis were both linearly and exponentially related to consumption rates worldwide; countries with greater consumption rates and heavy consumption patterns have greater rates of alcohol dependency; alcohol in moderation has either little to no negative effects on dementia or a minor protective effect; and heavy alcohol consumption is a risk factor for dementia. Overall, these studies reinforced that alcohol in moderation can have a positive effect on health, while alcohol in excess can lead to a whirlwind of health issues. Key Words: Alcohol, moderation, excess, cognitive decline, dementia, liver cirrhosis, alcohol dependence, international study, local study, sex differences
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