People who love necking two glasses of wine a night thinking it is healthy, should stop. A new study suggests it might not be as beneficial as some reports would want you to believe.
Countless stories have reported on research tying moderate drinking to several health benefits, including a lower heart disease risk and a longer life, but a new analysis takes a deeper look at these studies, 87 in all, only to find many of them flawed, and suggesting benefits where there were none.
A key issue is how these studies have defined ‘abstainers’, explained lead researcher Tim Stockwell from the University of Victoria, British Columbia.
Most often, studies compare moderate drinkers with ‘current’ abstainers. However, this abstainer group can include people in poor health who have cut out on alcohol.
“A fundamental question is who are these moderate drinkers being compared against?” Stockwell said. When his team corrected for those abstainer ‘biases’ and certain other study-design issues, moderate drinkers no longer showed a longevity advantage.
Further, only 13 of the 87 studies avoided biasing the abstainer comparison group and these showed no health benefits.
“There’s a general idea that alcohol is good for us, because that’s what you hear reported all the time,” Stockwell said. “But there are many reasons to be skeptical.”
The study is published in the Journal of Studies on Alcohol and Drugs.
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