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Should Laws Limit Alcohol Sales?

Should Laws Limit Alcohol Sales?

Author: Shernide Delva

A new study found that areas in Texas where the sale of alcohol was permitted had a higher prevalence of alcohol misuse compared to residents living in areas with laws restricting alcohol sales. The study set out to analyze the effects of laws that monitor alcohol sales and compare them to areas that permitted alcohol.  The results revealed that stricter alcohol laws do in fact, prevent heavy alcohol abuse. Should other areas follow suit?

This study is the largest study to focus on the relation alcohol use has on cardiovascular disease and examine laws restricting alcohol sales. The study found that restricting alcohol laws may have a measurable impact on public health that may be both beneficial and harmful.

Alcohol is one of the most widely use drugs worldwide. Alcohol increases the risk for some cardiovascular diseases and lowers the risk for others.  Previous studies hinted an association between cardiovascular disease and alcohol use, however, they have had conflicting results.

Therefore, an team of researchers at the University of California, San Franciso investigated the relation between alcohol consumption and cardiovascular disease by looking at two different Texas counties. One had laws restricting alcohol sales while the other one did not.  Results showed that incidences and prevalence of alcohol misuse and alcoholic liver disease was significantly greater in areas that were wet than were dry.

Texas is the most populous state to enact laws restricting alcohol sales. Numerous counties in the state are known as “dry” that have restricted laws and those that allow alcohol are known as “wet counties.” Researchers analyzed information from the Texas Alcoholic beverage commission. They identified 29 dry counties and 47 wet counties between 2004 and 2010.

In the same study, they found that 1, 1,106,968 patients aged 21 or older were admitted to hospital in the state, using data from the Texas Department of State Health Services. Results revealed that alcohol-related hospital incidence was greater among wet counties than in dry counties. This is after adjusting for factors such as age, race, ethnicity, and sex.

When it came to cardiovascular health, there was a higher incident of atrial fibrillation (an irregular heartbeat) in wet counties, however, rates of heart failure and heart attacks were actually lower.  As of now, no firm conclusions have been made regarding the results, however, authors state “results have health implications relevant to people with and at risk for various types of cardiovascular disease.”

They explain that the “possible health benefits of alcohol consumed within recommended limits continue to cause extraordinary controversy,” and that only a randomized trial of alcohol consumption will be able to answer questions, because of limitations with observational studies.

“All interested parties should press for such a trial quickly and wholeheartedly. It is time to move forward,” they concluded.

More studies are needed to draw any conclusions,however the question now is whether other areas should consider having laws regarding alcohol sales. If repeated research studies reveal the same results, it could be something that is considered. Alcohol remains one of the most abused substances.

Still, alcohol is different for everyone. If you feel you may have an alcohol problem, you should seek professional help. You are not alone. Call today.

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