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CNN Today

Draft Proposal of New Dietary Guidelines Shows Who May Benefit From Moderate Drinking

Aired January 20, 2000 - 2:37 p.m. ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.

LOU WATERS, CNN ANCHOR: An advisory committee is revising our nutritional guidelines, and they may include some things we haven't seen before, like the proposed draft tells us who may benefit from moderate amounts of alcohol.

Here's our medical correspondent Elizabeth Cohen, now, to tell us more about this.

ELIZABETH COHEN, CNN MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: Lou, every five years they revise these dietary guidelines, and the point of the guidelines is to help Americans become healthier by eating and drinking better.

Now, the current guidelines say that drinking alcohol in moderation may help prevent heart disease. Now, what's new here is that a working draft for the year 2000 specifies that drinking only seems to be helpful for men over age 40 and women over age 50, that if you're any younger, there doesn't seem to be any heart benefit.

But the dietary guidelines go to great pains to say that these heart benefits are iffy. Studies contradict each other on whether alcohol really helps and by how much. So the bottom line: If you drink, drink moderately, meaning one or two drinks a day. And if you don't drink, there's no reason to start now.

WATERS: So the new guidelines are rife with caveats.

COHEN: That's it -- huge. Yes, lots of caveats.

WATERS: And young people are going to be disappointed that their moderate drinking won't help them a bit.

COHEN: That's right.

WATERS: OK, Elizabeth Cohen.

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