Tag Archives: Alcoholic beverage

Alcohol Has No Health Benefits

7 Sep

The Times recently republished this piece  on longevity. Most of the advise is reasonably sound, but it does include this:

It’s O.K. to drink red wine. “A glass of wine is better than a glass of water with a Mediterranean meal.”

If only it were true. Unfortunately, there is good reason to doubt this much promoted advice. See for example, this recent article by Dr. Mirkin:

A study from New Zealand shows that 30 per cent of alcohol–related deaths are from cancer, and 60 per cent of those deaths are from breast cancer. One third of these deaths were associated with an average of fewer than two drinks a day (Drug Alcohol Rev, June 16, 2016). However, the more you drink, the more likely you are to develop certain cancers. Alcohol increases risk for cancers of the oropharynx, larynx, esophagus, liver, colon, rectum, breast, cervix, vulva, vagina, skin, bladder, lung, stomach, skin, prostate and pancreas, and for leukemia and multiple myeloma.

For many years it was claimed that low levels of alcohol consumption had health benefits. More recently, we have learned that the harm of alcohol is dose dependent, the more you drink, the greater the risk to your health. It is quite possible that low levels of exposure pose very little risk, but the optimal level of consumption appears to be zero.

 

“Do ‘Moderate’ Drinkers Have Reduced Mortality Risk?”

30 Mar

Not according to this meta-analysis published in  The Journal of Studies on Alcohol and Drugs.

“In summary, analyses of groups of higher quality studies free from abstainer biases were less likely to find evidence of reduced risk of mortality (i.e., health benefits) at low levels of alcohol consumption. Rather, the pattern of results is more consistent with a linear dose response than a J-shaped curve describing the risk relationships between level of alcohol consumption and all-cause mortality.”

 

Alcohol consumption by country

21 Mar

An article in today’s Washington Post on world alcohol consumption:

“The rise of drinking in countries like China could be a cause for concern. Alcohol, which contributes to more than 300,000 deaths among males each year in the country, is considered the sixth greatest risk factor for men by the Institute for Health Metric and Evaluation.”

 

 

IQ and Alcohol Consumption

1 Mar

A paper published in Alcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research:

“Background
Studies of the association between IQ and alcohol consumption have shown conflicting results. The aim of this study was to investigate the association between IQ test results and alcohol consumption, measured as both total alcohol intake and pattern of alcohol use.

Methods
The study population consists of 49,321 Swedish males born 1949 to 1951 who were conscripted for Swedish military service 1969 to 1970. IQ test results were available from tests performed at conscription. Questionnaires performed at conscription provided data on total alcohol intake (consumed grams of alcohol/wk) and pattern of drinking. Multinomial and binomial logistic regressions were performed on the cross-sectional data to estimate odds ratios (ORs) with 95% confidence intervals (CIs). Adjustments were made for socioeconomic position as a child, psychiatric symptoms and emotional stability, and father’s alcohol habits.

Results
We found an increased OR of 1.20 (1.17 to 1.23) for every step decrease on the stanine scale to be a high consumer versus a light consumer of alcohol. For binge drinking, an increased OR of 1.09 (95% CI = 1.08 to 1.11) was estimated for every step decrease on the stanine scale. Adjustment for confounders attenuated the associations. Also, IQ in adolescence was found to be inversely associated with moderate/high alcohol consumption measured in middle age.

Conclusions
We found that lower results on IQ tests are associated with higher consumption of alcohol measured in terms of both total alcohol intake and binge drinking in Swedish adolescent men.”

Ironically the account of this study in The Telegraph linked to this story:

Starbucks to offer wine and beer in evenings

Ten percent of drinkers consume more than half of all alcohol

29 Oct

Alcohol is America’s most serious drug problem. Contrary to industry propaganda, there is no known safe level of alcohol consumption. The health benefits claimed for alcohol do not survive critical scrutiny.

The Washington Post reports

“the top 10 percent of drinkers account for well over half of the alcohol consumed in any given year.”

According to Stanford researcher Philip J. Cook:

“One consequence is that the heaviest drinkers are of greatly disproportionate importance to the sales and profitability of the alcoholic-beverage industry,” he writes writes. “If the top decile somehow could be induced to curb their consumption level to that of the next lower group (the ninth decile), then total ethanol sales would fall by 60 percent.”

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Hat tip to BoingBoing.

Alcohol consumption and cognitive decline

17 Jan

A paper published in the journal Neurology, looked at longitudinal data on alcohol consumption and early cognitive decline. They found that excessive alcohol consumption in men was linked to faster cognitive decline. Excessive consumption was defined as greater than 36 grams a day.

They found “no differences in cognitive decline among alcohol abstainers, quitters, and light or moderate alcohol drinkers.”

Thanks to Kathy H. for alerting me to this study.

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Light drinking increases cancer risks

9 Oct

Dr. Mirkin’s Fitness and Health e-Zine alerts us to a recent meta-analysis of research on the health effects of drinking published in the Annals of Oncology.

There is good reason to doubt the widely repeated claim that moderate drinking has health benefits. According to the meta-analysis:

“Light drinking increases the risk of cancer of oral cavity and pharynx, esophagus and female breast.”

Dr. Mirkin points out:

“For many years the wine, beer and alcoholic beverage industries have promoted studies showing that alcohol is healthful. However, researchers at the University of Victoria in British Columbia reviewed 54 studies and found that only seven of those studies corrected their non-drinking population for people who had been told to stop drinking for health reasons (Addiction Research and Theory, April 2006).

When researchers perform an epidemiological study to see if alcohol prevents disease, they compare people who drink with those who do not drink. However, many people do not drink because their doctors have told them they have liver, heart or kidney disease, high blood pressure, alcoholism, stomach ulcers, or other major health problems. The Canadian researchers re-analyzed 47 studies that associated wine or other alcohol with a longer life and decreased risk for heart attacks. When the studies were corrected to remove the people who had been ordered to stop drinking for health reasons, they found no difference in death rate between moderate drinkers and those who do not drink at all. Always be skeptical of studies that say alcohol prolongs life.”

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