Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 78.djvu/393

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383
ALCOHOL— ITS USE AND ABUSE

or exactly the same as in the previous normal experiment. The quantity of fat retained by the patient on the alcohol days amounted to 34.1 grams daily. It is evident from this experiment that alcohol can replace fat or carbohydrates in metabolism in accordance with its heat value. So we can say that the cells of the organism may be maintained in their vital activities by alcohol instead of by normal nutrient substances.

It is apparent, therefore, that alcohol may have a very considerable value as food. If an alcoholic beverage should contain materials other than alcohol such as the extractive materials in Bavarian beer, the food value rises to a very considerable amount. Thus, a liter of Bavarian beer contains 450 calories. These facts, however, do not at all justify the substitution of alcohol for carbohydrates and fats in the dietary.

Many experiments have been accomplished to see whether alcohol has any effect upon the protein balance in the body. Sometimes alcohol has been found to spare protein, sometimes it has been found to cause a waste of protein. The effect, however, of alcohol upon the general metabolism of protein is certainly without very great significance.

Yet there are indications that alcohol does alter metabolism in the individual who partakes of it. Beebe found no effect upon the output of uric acid after taking alcohol with a diet which was free from the precursors of uric acid. This, however, has not been confirmed by others, and Landau found that usually there was a slight increase in the output of uric acid in the urine after the ingestion of alcohol.

Since the nucleus of the cell is characterized in its structure by the presence of nucleo-proteins whose destruction results in the increased elimination of uric acid, it is not impossible that these nuclei are somewhat affected by the presence of alcohol in the body. A similar effect upon the nuclei of the germ plasm may be considered in connection with the idea of the possible transmission of alcoholism through heredity.

Abbott has found that alcoholized rabbits not only show the effect of streptococcus inoculations earlier than do non-alcoholized rabbits, but the lesions produced are much more pronounced than those which usually follow inoculation with this organism.

Laitinen has administered to rabbits one cubic centimeter of pure alcohol per kilogram of body weight, which corresponds to between four and five ounces of whiskey daily for a man. This quantity of alcohol was not sufficient to intoxicate the animal. Animals which had received this amount of alcohol for a considerable period were found to have a much greater susceptibility to pathogenic bacteria than normal controls.

Hodge has found that alcoholic dogs show diminished resistance to distemper as compared with normal animals under the same kennel conditions.