Disease Proof

Pregnancy and Alcohol: Just One Drink...

Back in November the American Cancer Society published a report with suggestions to help people decrease their cancer risk. Here’s an excerpt:
The report, called Food, Nutrition, Physical Activity, and the Prevention of Cancer: A Global Perspective, urges people to stay at a healthy weight, which means having a body mass index (or BMI, a ratio of weight to height) between 18.5 and 24.9. And it recommends regular physical activity as a way to control weight…


…The report also makes recommendations for eating more healthfully to reduce cancer risk. It says people should eat mostly foods from plants, limit red meat and alcohol, and avoid processed meats like bacon, sausage, and lunchmeat.
And as Dr. Fuhrman points out, alcohol isn’t exactly health-promoting. Its basically drink at your own risk. More form Dr. Fuhrman:
Moderate drinking is defined as a maximum of two drinks for men. Consuming more than this is associated with increased fat around the waist and other potential problems.1 For example, alcohol consumption leads to mild withdrawal sensations the next day that are commonly mistaken for hunger, which leads people to eat more than is genuinely necessary, resulting in weight gain.
Okay, as far as pregnancy is concerned, Dr. Fuhrman considers alcohol “really risky for you and your unborn children.” Here’s his list of no-no’s:
  • Caffeine
  • Nicotine, including secondhand smoke
  • Alcohol
  • Medications, both over-the-counter and prescription drugs
  • Herbs and high-dose supplements, vitamin A
  • Fish, mollusks and shellfish, sushi (raw fish)
  • Hot tubs and saunas
  • Radiation
  • Household clear, paint thinners
  • Cat litter
  • Raw milk and cheese
  • Soft cheese and blue-veined cheeses such as feta, Roquefort, and Brie
  • Artificial colors, nitrates, and MSG
  • Deli meats, luncheon meats, hot dogs, and undercooked meats
Now, this new research sends a confusing message. A Swedish Study says its okay for moms to have a few swigs while breastfeeding. More from the AFP:
"There is no medical reason to abstain completely from alcohol while breastfeeding," Annica Sohlstroem, head of the agency's nutrition department, said in a statement.


"The amount of alcohol that the child can ingest through the breastmilk is small if you drink one or two glasses of wine" per week, she said.

The new advice is an about-face for the agency, which has for the past decade or so advised women to avoid alcohol while breastfeeding, and is based on current medical research.
I think pairing alcohol with pregnancy and breastfeeding is just a bad idea. In fact, past research determined that alcohol may alter a child’s mind. From HealthDay News:
In their study, researchers at San Diego State University (SDSU) examined 22 children and adolescents (ages 8 to 18 years) -- 13 with and 9 without histories of heavy prenatal alcohol exposure. The participants were part of a larger study at the Center for Behavioral Teratology, SDSU...


"...We found two regions within the prefrontal cortex where the youth with alcohol-exposure histories had increased brain activation and one area in the subcortex (called the caudate nucleus) where the alcohol-exposed youth had decreased brain activation," study co-author Susanna L. Fryer, a graduate student in the SDSU/University of California, San Diego, joint doctoral program in clinical psychology, said in a prepared statement.
I won’t be faced with this decision, but, I hope my wife would totally abstain from alcohol while she was pregnant and breastfeeding—I’d easily give it up right along side her!
1. Dallongeville J, Marecaux N, Ducmetiere P, et al. Influence of alcohol consumption and various beverages on waist girth and waist-to-hip ratio in a sample of French men and women. In J Obes Metab Disord 1998; 22 (12): 1178-1183.
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