Washington: Those of us necking two glasses of wine a night because of moderate drinking's health benefits may have to stop it now as a new study has suggested that it might not be as healthy as we think.
Countless news stories have reported on research tying moderate drinking to a range of health benefits, including a lower heart disease risk and a longer life, but the new analysis took a deeper look at those studies, 87 in all and found that many were flawed, with designs suggesting benefits where there were likely none.
A key issue is how studies have defined "abstainers," explained lead researcher Tim Stockwell from the University of Victoria.
Most often, studies have compared moderate drinkers with "current" abstainers. The problem is that this abstainer group can include people in poor health who have cut out alcohol.
"A fundamental question is, who are these moderate drinkers being compared against?" Stockwell said. When his team corrected for those abstainer "biases" and certain other study-design issues, moderate drinkers no longer showed a longevity advantage.
Further, only 13 of the 87 studies avoided biasing the abstainer comparison group and these showed no health benefits.
"There's a general idea out there that alcohol is good for us, because that's what you hear reported all the time," Stockwell said. "But there are many reasons to be skeptical."