Twenty-six episodes of ‘The A-Files’ ran throughout Alcohol Awareness Month on YouTube, Facebook, LinkedIn, Alcohologist.com and AddictedMinds.com, among other web and social media sites. The final segment, Episode Z, elaborates on the fact there are zero documented, evidence-based health benefits tied to the consumption of alcohol. Since 2010, there have been numerous articles on alcohologist.com challenging the junk science people were willing to believe regarding health benefits related to alcohol use.
There are zero health benefits. Not from wine, not from moderate drinking. There is no evidence that drinking a toxin will make you prettier, healthier, funnier, smarter, immune to disease, improve your sex life or extend your years on the planet. Even the notion that alcohol improves quality of life isn’t realistic. Four things to consider when reading a study promoting alcohol.
1) Many of the studies compared ‘moderate’ drinkers with ‘current’ abstainers. These abstainers could be people who had, for example, stopped drinking alcohol because of poor health, the disease of alcoholism, legal issues or common sense. When a 2016 study from the University of Victoria adjusted for these sorts of abstainer biases, only 13 of the 87 studies didn’t bias the abstainer comparison group, and none of these 13 showed any health benefit associated with moderate alcohol consumption anyway.
2.) In 2013, the journal Addiction ran a critical analysis of observational studies vs. evidence-based ones, concluding, “For almost all the diseases, we do not know of any plausible biological mechanism explaining a preventive role for alcohol. Alcohol’s possible ability to prevent diseases should probably not be considered as an established fact. The absence of definite knowledge leaves plenty of room for wishful thinking, which we observe frequently on this topic.”
3.) Common sense does not support the notion that a drug that causes a disease can also help prevent the same disease. Alcohol increases blood pressure in the lab and is claimed to protect the heart in pro-alcohol studies. Alcohol use is a documented carcinogen, but pro-alcohol studies claim some prophylactic effect. Alcohol use visibly shrinks the brain in MRIs and cadaver studies, but pro-alcohol studies claim it helps stave off dementia.
Fourth, and not the least, is to ask ‘does this study pass the smell test?’ What would cause a reputable physician or scientist to expend the time and resources – and risk reputation – to look for a health benefit of consuming a toxin and known carcinogen? Health or otherwise, what causes problems, is one.
The entire 26 episode HD series is available on disc, along with fact sheets, for helping professions. See the preorder special at tr.im/TheAFiles