Moderate Drinking Reports Flawed?
There has been quite a bit of good news lately for those who consider themselves moderate drinkers. It seems that each week brings new reports hailing the potential health benefits of moderate alcohol consumption -- particularly when it comes to the heart and lifespan.
But it all may be too good to be true.
New research published in the Journal of Studies on Alcohol and Drugs suggests many of these studies are flawed and that such benefits may be largely overestimated. Investigators from the Centre for Addictions Research at the University of Victoria, Canada reached their conclusion by analyzing 87 studies that assessed the effects of moderate drinking on longevity.
One major flaw they found with previous studies was how they defined "abstainers" -- people who do not drink alcohol. Many of the studies compared moderate drinkers (defined as those who consume up to two alcoholic beverages daily) with "current" abstainers. The problem is that these abstainers may include individuals of poor health who have stopped drinking because of that.
Taking that factor into consideration, just 13 of the studies they assessed avoided biases in the abstainer group, and these studies demonstrated no mortality benefits with moderate drinking. In the end, when the researchers accounted for this bias and other flaws they identified related to study design, they found that moderate drinkers no longer showed any mortality benefits.
So it seems that what science once had given (guilt-free moderate drinking), it has now taken away.