accounts for almost universal violent
epigastric pain and occasional elevated serum amylase
levels which marks the end of the latent period.
There is a generally accepted association between
alcoholism and pancreatitis. Most patients, however,
give a history of 5 to 10 years of heavy drinking
before the onset of the first attack. The fact that
40% of all cases of acute pancreatitis complaints
are attributable to alcoholics, however, must be taken
into consideration to avoid artifactual association.
Pancreatitis has been a complaint associated with
Methanol and the Heart:
A 21-year-old non-drinking male who had been exposed
daily to the fine dust of aspartame at the packaging
plant he had worked for over a year, was complaining
of blurred vision, headaches, dizziness, and severe
depression before his sudden death. An autopsy revealed
(aside from the organ involvement one might expect
from methanol toxicity) myocardial hypertrophy and
dilatation with the myocardiopathy and left ventricle
involvement reminiscent of alcoholic cardiomyopathy.
Alcoholic cardiomyopathy however typically occurs
in 30-55 year old men who have a history of alcohol
intake in quantities comprising 30 to 50 percent of
their daily caloric requirement over a 10 to 15 year
It has been suggested that alcohol is the etiologic
factor in a least 50 percent of the cases of congestive
cardiomyopathy. The significantly lower hospitalization
incidence for coronary disease among moderate drinkers
than among nondrinkers and protection to coronary
risk afforded the moderate drinker (less than two
drinks a day) over the nondrinker seems contradictory.
However, if we implicate methanol as the etiologic
factor, then clearly the nondrinker is at a disadvantage
with a much lower ethanol to methanol ration (Table
1) when consuming naturally occurring methanol in
a diet otherwise equivalent to the drinkers. The chronic
alcoholic for reasons already proposed might sacrifice
As mentioned below, high temperature canning as
developed late in the 19th century should increase
significantly the methanol content of fruits and vegetables.
The increased availability and consumption of these
food products in various countries over the years
may parallel better than most other dietary factors
the increase in incidence of coronary disease in their
populations. Cigarette smoke, a known coronary risk
factor, contains four times as much methanol as formaldehyde
and only traces of ethanol.
ETHANOL AND FOLIC ACID
The importance of ethanol as an antidote to methanol
toxicity in humans is very well established in the
literature. The timely administration of ethanol is
still considered a vital part of methanol poisoning
management. Ethanol slows the rate of methanol's...