Is Alcohol Unsafe in Any Amount?

In All Health Watch, Diet and Nutrition, Featured Article, General Health, Health Warning

For those of us who enjoy a drink, the recent headlines were unsettling…

“Alcohol in Any Amount Is Unhealthy”

The articles described a study that claimed even one drink a day comes with health risks.

Here’s why you shouldn’t believe the hype…

Dr. Aaron E. Carroll is a professor at Indiana University School of Medicine. He is an expert on how medical research is conducted. Dr. Carroll analyzed the new alcohol study.

He points out that it’s actually not what most people think of when they hear the word “study.” It is a meta-analysis. It didn’t gather any new information. It simply analyzed data from previous studies.1

And when Dr. Carroll drilled down into the numbers, he found that the conclusion of the analysis was misleading.

It found that “only four people out of 100,000 who consume a drink a day may have a problem caused by the drinking,” he said.

In other words, if you have a drink a day, the chances it will harm you are 0.004%.

“Even at five drinks per day, which most agree is too much, the vast majority of people are unaffected,” Dr. Carroll says.

Alcohol Study “Is Just Misleading.”

Dr. Walter Willett is a professor of nutrition and epidemiology at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health. He also analyzed the new findings.

“I think they went too far in this paper,” said Dr. Willett. “It’s just misleading.”2

Dr. Willet said that while heavy drinking is harmful, plenty of studies support links between moderate drinking and decreased risk of heart disease and lower total mortality.

Researchers have found that the risk of diabetes diminishes in people who have one or two drinks a day. And a recent study found that having one to two daily drinks lessens the risk of Alzheimer’s disease.3

Dr. Carroll, who doesn’t drink, says he is not advocating heavy drinking, but sensible drinking. You should be fine with six to eight drinks a week, he said. And chances are you’ll be healthier, too.

Red wine is a good choice. Most of its benefits come from phenol compounds called procyanidins. They are linked to better heart health, lower stroke and cancer risk, and contribute to longevity.

The red wine highest in procyanidins is Madiran. It’s made in the southwest of France, primarily from the tannat grape. Madiran (not to be confused with Madeira, a usually sweet wine) is dry and robust.

Most big wine shops carry it. If you can’t find it, go for cabernet sauvignon. It is also high in procyanidins.

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