It is a wake-up call for all those who have been serving themselves generous doses of alcohol in the name of health, as a study has questioned the so-called benefits of moderate drinking. Many studies link moderate drinking with lower risk of cardiovascular disease. The benefits are known to be enjoyed alike by those who have no known heart-related ailment and those who have high risk of developing a heart attack or stroke. People living with type 2 diabetes, those with existing cardiovascular disease or gallstones could also get benefited from moderate drinking.
Researchers, advocating for two-drink per day theory, were also getting ample support from American Heart Association (AHA) that recommends moderate alcohol consumption (an average of one drink per day for women and one to two drinks per day for men) to maintain good cardiovascular health. However, AHA did not want to send across wrong message to non-drinkers and encourage them to start drinking. AHA clearly stated, “Given these and other risks, the American Heart Association cautions people NOT to start drinking … if they do not already drink alcohol.” At the same time, AHA also mentioned the dangers of drinking more alcohol (than recommended) including alcoholism, obesity, stroke, breast cancer, high blood pressure, suicide and accidents.
Can alcohol in any amount be beneficial?
In the past few years, researchers have come up with studies that have challenged the possibility of any benefits associated with moderate drinking. A study published in the Journal of Studies on Alcohol and Drugs in March 2016, challenges the meta-analysis of 87 previous studies that had linked low-volume drinkers (1.3–24.9 g ethanol per day) with decreased risk of mortality. Led by Dr. Timothy Stockwell, professor of psychology, University of Victoria, Canada, the study argued that previous studies advocating cardiovascular benefits of moderate drinking were poorly designed, biased and highlighted unreal positive benefits.
Occasional drinkers had the same risk of alcohol-related mortality as the low- and medium-volume drinkers. Even after adjusting for abstainer biases and quality-related study characteristics, researchers did not observe any significant reduction in mortality risk in low-volume/moderate drinkers. Further, the study denied any possible association between moderate drinking and longevity. Clearing the air around health benefits of alcohol, Dr. Stockwell said, “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.”
It is not the first time that a study has challenged the perceived notions. A 2015 study, published in the British Medical Journal (BMJ), had also questioned the protective effects of alcohol. The researchers stated, “Our research reveals that the protective effects of light drinking that have been widely reported may be exaggerated because the claims are based on studies that have included the inappropriate use of non-drinkers, regardless of the abstinence reason as a comparator and other ‘selection biases’.”
Emmanuel Stamatakis, associate professor, Faculty of Health Sciences and University’s Charles Perkins Centre, University of Sydney, justified the results saying that they had removed the ex-drinkers, who might have quitted due to alcohol-related health issues or have abstained due to poor health in general, from the pool of non-drinkers. As the protective benefits of alcohol for moderate drinkers virtually disappeared, there was little to no protection provided by alcohol consumption at any level.
He further added that studies advocating for moderate consumption of alcohol to protect against cardiovascular disease were sending across a wrong message to drinkers. He emphasized that people should not use claims of alcohol’s health benefits to justify drinking. They should rather adopt better health strategies like regular exercising and staying active.
Getting over alcohol
While there might be some indifference over the protective effects of moderate drinking, researchers are unanimous over the hazards of binge drinking or continued consumption of alcohol for a prolonged period. Addiction to alcohol not just impacts lives of drinkers but also their families giving rise to domestic violence, brawls and unpredictable behavior.
The California Detox Helpline helps individuals and families get rid of alcohol addiction. You can get details of the best addiction treatment centers in California. Chat online or call our 24/7 helpline 855-780-2495 to know about good options in alcohol rehab in California.