Recently, articles have been popping up left and right, linking moderate alcohol consumption with a number of seriously great health benefits. These most often included reduced risk of heart problems and diabetes, and even an extended lifespan.
This of course, is what everyone would love to hear. However, now the studies that have made these claims in the first place are turning out to be unreliable, according to a research team's new meta-analysis.
The studies that linked moderate drinking with health benefits focused on comparing moderate drinkers with abstainers — people who do not drink any alcohol at all.
Tim Stockwell, a researcher behind this new meta-analysis, explained in his statement that the key issue behind these findings is how abstainers are defined in the previous studies.
The problem with this comparison is that the abstainer group included people who most likely didn’t drink due to health problems, or just poor health in general.
This causes a huge flaw in the study linking moderate drinking with health benefits. It creates the illusion that the moderate drinkers led healthier and longer lives than those who didn’t drink, when in reality the abstainers already had health problems of their own that were reflected the results of this study.
Another finding in the meta-analysis differed from the initial claims that alcohol offers any health benefits.
Upon making corrections to the abstainer biases, moderate drinkers no longer showed advantages of longevity. The team of researchers recognized that out of all 87 of these studies, only 13 of them managed to avoid this bias.
None of the results of these studies showed any health benefits linked to moderate drinking.
According to Stockwell, even before these corrections were made, it was actually the group deemed as "occasional drinkers," those who have less than one drink per week, who lived the longest. It is highly improbable that this minimal amount of drinking would be the reason behind their longevity.
These previous studies have also associated moderate drinking with an unlikely plethora of health benefits which included decreased risks of liver cirrhosis and deafness.
Stockwell stated, "Either alcohol is a panacea, or moderate drinking is really a marker of something else."
With all of these conflicting studies, the claims that moderate drinking offers health benefits should be greeted with a good deal of skepticism. If you are a moderate drinker and lead a healthy life, don’t give your alcohol consumption the credit.
There are a number of validated and reliable ways for us to improve our health that don't involve second-guessing the method to achieving our health goals. Drinking every now and then won’t wreak havoc on your health, but it may not give you any added health benefits, either.
So have a glass of wine when you want to, but be wary of the next article you come across claiming that you will live longer because of it!
Reviewed April 5, 2016
by Michele Blacksberg
Edited by Jody Smith
Moderate Alcohol Consumption May Not Offer Any Health Benefits After All; Claims May Be Based on 'Flawed' Science. Medical Daily. March 30, 2016.
That Cabernet Might Not Be Good For Your Health After All. NPR. March 30, 2016.
New Research Says You Should Think Twice About Booze's Health Affects. Refinery29. March 30, 2016.