It seems like every several months, though, there’s a new story out touting the health benefits of moderate drinking. Often, but not always, it seems focused on not just the alcohol, but on certain microchemicals in red wine. These studies all claim that the moderate drinking, and especially the wine, are “heart healthy.”
If you’re like me, even if these studies don’t have liquor industry sponsorship, you may wonder how accurate they are.
Perhaps not so much, according to a big new study which says moderate drinking is often NOT healthy. It’s actually a meta-study of a number of previous studies, and it says all those other studies dropped the ball by missing the genetics angle:
They found that those with a form of a gene tied to lower levels of drinking generally had healthier hearts. The gene affects how a person’s body breaks down alcohol, resulting in unpleasant symptoms such as nausea and facial flushing. Having this variant has been shown to lead to lower drinking over the long term, the researchers explained.
But the new study authors went beyond that:
“While the damaging effects of heavy alcohol consumption on the heart are well-established, for the last few decades we’ve often heard reports of the potential health benefits of light-to-moderate drinking,” study senior author Juan Casas, a professor of epidemiology at the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine, said in a university news release. “However, we now have evidence that some of these studies suffer from limitations that may affect the validity of their findings.
“In our study, we saw a link between a reduced consumption of alcohol and improved cardiovascular health, regardless of whether the individual was a light, moderate or heavy drinker.”
So, don’t let the “lizard voice” or “addict voice” or whatever tempt you into believing you’re being healthy by grabbing that Merlot! It’s not true.
And (shockingly!) the authors note one other problem with most of these previous studies:
“Studies into alcohol consumption are fraught with difficulty, in part because they rely on people giving accurate accounts of their drinking habits,” Dr. Shannon Amoils, senior research advisor at the British Heart Foundation, said in the news release “Here the researchers used a clever study design to get round this problem by including people who had a gene that predisposes them to drink less.”
A drinker trying to pretend his or her drinking not accurately reporting drinking amounts for a study? Noooo!
So, there you go … stay sober and stay healthy.