There have been many studies over the years acclaiming the potential health benefits of moderate alcohol consumption, particularly when it comes to the heart and longevity. But new research published in the Journal of Studies on Alcohol and Drugs indicates that many of these studies are flawed and that many of the purported benefits are likely overestimated.
Lead researcher Tim Stockwell, PhD, of the Centre for Addictions Research at the University of Victoria, Canada and colleagues analyzed 87 studies that measured the effects of moderate drinking on longevity.
Over the last decade, numerous studies have suggested that, in moderation, alcohol may lower the risk of heart attack and heart failure. However, this new research from Stockwell found that many of these studies are subject to biases that, when accounted for, eliminate the reported health benefits of moderate drinking. The team identified a number of flaws in the way the studies were designed.
“A fundamental question is, who are these moderate drinkers being compared against?” says Stockwell. When Stockwell’s team accounted for this bias and other flaws they identified related to study design, they found that moderate drinkers no longer showed any mortality benefits.
“There’s a general idea out there that alcohol is good for us, because that’s what you hear reported all the time. But there are many reasons to be skeptical” says Stockwell.
It’s the general consensus that for people with alcohol or drug problems, any use of alcohol is problematic. However, it now seems that moderate drinkers, who aren’t necessarily addicted, should also be mindful of the health risks associated with drinking as they seem to outweigh any benefits.