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Lynn Anderson: Alcohol and Heart Attacks

lynn anderson
Lynn Anderson was one of America's most popular country music singers in the 1960s and 70s, best known for her "I Never Promised You a Rose Garden".  She died from a heart attack at the very young age of 67, most likely caused by her excessive intake of alcohol. Alcohol can damage cells throughout your body.
 
From her early years, she suffered the pressure of being highly competitive and successful in everything she did, and this same self-imposed pressure caused her to do other things to excess. She started singing and performing at age six, performed regularly on television when she was in high school, and continued singing professionally most of her life. She also was a highly successful horsewoman who competed almost to the end of her life, winning 16 national, eight world and several celebrity championships, and more than 700 trophies.   
 
Her Personal Life and Career
Anderson was born in North Dakota and raised in California. Her parents, Casey and Liz Anderson, were both successful songwriters. Anderson began singing and performing as a child and charted successful single records by age 19, which landed her a regular place on the Lawrence Welk Show.  At age 21, she married producer/songwriter Glenn Sutton and they had a child.  At age 23 she signed with Columbia Records and recorded "I Never Promised You a Rose Garden", which made her an international star. At age 24, she was named Female Vocalist of the Year by the Country Music Association. At age 27, she became the first female country singer to win the American Music Award and sell out Madison Square Garden.  At age 30, she divorced Glenn Sutton and at age 31 (1978), she married Louisiana oilman Harold "Spook" Stream III.  They had two children and divorced in 1982.  At the time of her death, she had been in a 26-year relationship with songwriter and producer Mentor Williams.
 

Alcohol Can Damage Every Cell in your Body
Anderson had a self-professed alcohol problem and several related run-ins with the law.  Alcohol damages your arteries to cause heart attacks and your brain to cause you to make terrible self-destructive decisions.  
• At age 57, she was arrested for driving while intoxicated in Denton, Texas. Another driver on the road called police after she saw Anderson weaving across the lanes on the street.  
• At age 58, she was accused of shoplifting a recording from a local supermarket in Taos, New Mexico. She punched the arresting officer and was charged with shoplifting, resisting arrest and assault on a police officer.
• At age 59, she was arrested for drunk driving after getting into an accident in Espanola, New Mexico.  She failed a sobriety test and refused to take a breathalyzer test.
• At age 67, she got into a traffic accident in Nashville, Tennessee, said she drank alcohol and took a prescription medication, was released from jail on a $5,000 bond, and later went to the Betty Ford Rehabilitation Center.
 
Consequences of Excess Alcohol
• Forgetfulness: Taking two drinks or more a day is associated with decreased memory because of smaller hippocampal brain size that governs memory, and the more a person drinks, the greater the decrease in brain size (BMJ, June 6, 2017;357:2353). 
 
• Heart Damage: People who take in just one drink a day are at increased risk for heart disease (American College of Cardiology, December 5, 2016) and irregular heartbeats, called atrial fibrillation, that cause clots and strokes (J Am Heart Assoc, Sep 14, 2016;5:e004060; Am Coll Cardiol, 2016;68(23):2567-2576).  See Reducing Alcohol Intake May Help to Prevent Heart Attacks
 

• Cancer: Alcohol is an established risk factor for cancers of the head and neck (Lancet Oncology, 2007;8(4):292-293), esophagus (Monographs on the Evaluation of Carcinogenic Risks in Humans, 2012;100(Pt E):373-472), liver (Clinics in Liver Disease, 2012;16(4):839-850), colon (Annals of Oncology, 2011;22(9):1958-1972), and breast (J of the Nat Can Inst, 2009;101(5):296-305). Drinking just one glass of wine a day raises the risk of cancer of the throat, esophagus, liver, colon, rectum and breast (Addiction, Jul 21, 2016). Alcohol has also been associated with cancers of the skin (Am J Clin Nutr, Nov 2015;102(5):1158-66) and prostate (BMC Cancer, Nov 5, 2016). See Alcohol and Cancer Risk
 
• Diabetes: Alcohol complicates control of diabetes: By restricting alcohol, diabetics gain better control of their blood sugar levels, HBA1C and insulin (Diabetes Care, 2015;38(9):1804-1812 & 2015;35(4):723-732).
 
• Osteoporosis: Alcohol is associated with increased risk for hip and vertebral fractures (NIH Osteoporosis and Related Bone Diseases, National Resource Center, April 2016).
 
• Liver damage: Drinking alcohol regularly increases risk for permanent liver damage called cirrhosis (Journal of Hepatology, January 26, 2015). Liquor and beer are linked to higher risk for liver damage than wine. The authors of this study warn that older drinkers are more likely to have health conditions affected by alcohol or to take medicines that impair their ability to metabolize alcohol.
 
Death:  A review of 83 scientific studies covering almost 600,000 current alcohol drinkers in 19 higher-income countries shows that men and women who take in as few as six drinks a week (100 grams of alcohol) are at increased risk for death from strokes, heart failure, heart disease and aortic aneurysms (The Lancet, April, 2018;391(10129):1513–1523).
 
Moderate Drinking Does Not Prevent Heart Attacks
An analysis of 45 studies showed that many studies associating moderate alcohol consumption with reduced heart attacks rates are flawed (Journal of Studies on Alcohol and Drugs, May 2017;78(3):394-403). To claim that moderate drinking is associated with heart attack prevention, researchers have tried to show that non-drinkers have more heart attacks than moderate drinkers. The problem is that the group of non-drinkers includes a very high number of sick people who had been told to stop drinking (alcoholics, people with liver, heart, lung or kidney disease or diabetes, and so forth). Once the studies had been corrected to remove these people from the group of non-drinkers, these studies no longer showed that the drinkers had fewer heart attacks. Another study, from England, followed 53,000 men and women over 50 for 6-10 years and found that alcohol consumption had no demonstrable health benefit and did not reduce risk of death during the study period (British Medical Journal, February 10, 2015).  See my report, How Much Alcohol is Safe?
 

A Lesson From this Young Death
Many people have the mistaken belief that it is safe and even beneficial for women to take one drink per day and for men to take up to two drinks per day. Almost 30 percent of North Americans drink more than that. The studies I have listed in this article and many more suggest that no amount of alcohol is beneficial. Whatever decision you make about your own consumption of alcohol, do not base it on bad information promoted by the alcoholic beverage industry.
 
September 26, 1947 – July 30, 2015
July 29th, 2018
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About the Author: Gabe Mirkin, MD

Sports medicine doctor, fitness guru and long-time radio host Gabe Mirkin, M.D., brings you news and tips for your healthful lifestyle. A practicing physician for more than 50 years and a radio talk show host for 25 years, Dr. Mirkin is a graduate of Harvard University and Baylor University College of Medicine. He is board-certified in four specialties: Sports Medicine, Allergy and Immunology, Pediatrics and Pediatric Immunology. The Dr. Mirkin Show, his call-in show on fitness and health, was syndicated in more than 120 cities. Read More
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