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Wednesday, June 19, 2024

Decades of research reveal no health advantages to moderate drinking, analysis shows

For decades, research has showed that consuming alcohol in moderation is beneficial for most people’s health and may even extend their lifespan.

A recent review of almost four decades of study has shown that many previous findings have been incorrect.

Women who consume less than 25 grammes of alcohol per day increase their chance of dying prematurely. This is equivalent to drinking less than two normal cocktails with 1.5 ounces of distilled spirits, two 12-ounce beers, or two 5-ounce glasses of wine per day. At 45 grammes of alcohol per day, or little more than three drinks, the hazards considerably rise for males.

While it reviewed data from over a hundred research covering almost five million individuals, the purpose of the new analysis was not to formulate drinking guidelines but rather to address methodological flaws in previous observational studies. Moderate drinkers were shown to have a lower risk of death from any cause, including alcohol-related ones.

The research were mostly observational, which means they may point to correlations but not establish causation. Previous research, according to experts, underestimated the health benefits of drinking in moderation and excluded ex-drinkers who had stopped drinking due to health issues from its comparison group of abstainers.

After accounting for these and other mistakes, Dr. Stockwell concluded, “Lo and behold, the putative health advantages of drinking diminish considerably, and become non-statistically significant.”

Dr. Stockwell has said that there are several problems in comparing moderate drinkers to non-drinkers. Those who choose to abstain from alcohol for religious reasons are more likely to suffer from chronic health issues, disabilities, or come from poorer socioeconomic backgrounds than those who drink occasionally or socially.

Those who drink in moderation tend to be, well, moderate. They are less likely to be overweight, have higher incomes, and have healthier lifestyles. Scientists also claim that their teeth are superior.

In 1924, a scientist from Johns Hopkins called Raymond Pearl produced a graph that looked like the letter J. The people with the lowest rates of death from all causes were the moderate drinkers, whose low point in the centre represented the benefits of drinking in moderation.

The J’s peak reflected the well-known dangers of excessive alcohol drinking, such liver disease and vehicle accidents. Those who choose to abstain used the hook on the left.

Due to its high content of resveratrol, a beneficial antioxidant also present in blueberries and cranberries, wine, and especially red wine, has gained a reputation in recent decades for having health advantages.

Newer studies suggest that even moderate alcohol intake, especially red wine, may lead to malignancies of the breast, oesophagus, and head and neck, as well as high blood pressure and a dangerous cardiac arrhythmia termed atrial fibrillation, casting doubt on the moderate alcohol hypothesis.

Canada published new recommendations in January advising that there is no safe level of alcohol consumption and encouraging individuals to reduce their usage. The Canadian Council on Substance Use and Addiction’s new advise represents a significant change from its 2011 recommendations that women consume no more than 10 standard drinks per week and males no more than 15.

According to recent recommendations from a Canadian government body, even two drinks per week has health hazards, while seven or more per week carries a far higher risk.

Alcohol consumption should be limited to no more than two drinks per day for males and one drink per day for women, but the current dietary standards in the United States are much less stringent.

Nonetheless, the provision that individuals should not consume alcohol with the explicit intention of enhancing their health has been included to the advice concerning alcohol use provided by several health organisations.

The authors of the current research found that there was no statistically significant difference in lifespan between moderate drinkers and nondrinkers.

Jonathan James
Jonathan James
I serve as a Senior Executive Journalist of The National Era
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