To Drink or Not to Drink
Play • 48 min

As the title of his book — Drink? — suggests, world-renowned professor of neuropsychopharmacology David Nutt thinks the cost/benefit analysis around consuming alcohol is an open question. He's not anti-alcohol — he regularly drinks himself — but he also thinks most people (more than 2/3 of folks around the world have had a drink in the past year) need to understand a lot more about drinking than they typically do in order to make an informed choice as to whether, and how much, to partake.

To that end, today on the show Dr. Nutt shares the ins and outs of something he calls both a fantastic, and a horrible, drug. We discuss how people acquire a taste for something that initially registers as a toxic poison and how alcohol affects the body and mind. We then delve into alcohol's long-term health consequences, including its link to cancer, the fact that it kills more people via stroke than by cirrhosis, the way it has a feminizing effect on men, and what it does to your sleep. We discuss what influences someone’s chances of becoming alcoholic, and signs that you’ve got a drinking problem. David also argues that drinking has some benefits, and offers suggestions on how to imbibe alcohol in a way that helps manage its risks. We end our conversation with why more people are curbing their drinking, and the synthetic alcohol David is developing that mimics the relaxing effects of alcohol, without its negative downsides.

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