While previous sources have reported that moderate drinking is beneficial to your long-term health, a new study is challenging this stance.
According to new research published in the Journal of Studies on Alcohol and Drugs, a team of scientists pulled results from 87 studies regarding the impact of alcohol on mortality. They found that most of those studies may have reached their conclusions based on “biased” data.
When these studies were conducted, the test subjects were split into groups: heavy drinkers, moderate drinkers, occasional drinkers, and abstainers.
However, for most of the 87 studies, the abstainers group not only included people who have never consumed alcohol, but was also made up of recovering alcoholics or those who had recently begun abstaining because of a health condition.
This seemingly minor detail has somewhat soiled the credibility of these studies since the health of the lifelong teetotalers and the former drinkers would, of course, be different. (If someone used to drink a lot and recently quit, they're likely not to be as healthy as a lifelong abstainer, right?) That's the logic of the researchers who are now saying that this small detail was enough to skew the former studies’ data, making moderate drinkers appear to be just as healthy as the abstainers (since the abstainers who used to be heavy drinks would likely still have the unhealthy traits of the heavy drinkers group, bringing down the group total health score).
But, out of the 87 studies, 13 of them did separate the lifelong abstainers from former drinkers. These studies concluded that low-volume alcohol consumption has no correlation to mortality benefits compared with lifetime abstention or occasional drinking.
Although there’s plenty of evidence that moderate alcohol consumption has its benefits, such as improving heart health and decreasing the risk of type 2 diabetes, the Center for Disease Control and Prevention guidance on drinking advises that you shouldn’t start drinking for your health.
Before you contemplate swearing off alcohol for good, keep in mind that the study isn’t suggesting that an occasional drink is detrimental to your health. Ultimately, what the study is saying is that there are limitations to what we know so far and it bolsters that recommendation from the CDC that you should not start drinking if you don't already solely for the health benefits
Or, take it straight from the study co-author, Dr. Tim Stockwell: “My advice: Drink for the enjoyment, sure, but just don't kid yourself that you are doing it for your health."