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Surprising Science

Light to Moderate Drinking May Not Be as Beneficial as Previously Thought

Magazines and health journals have been publishing studies for years saying a glass of wine is good for your heart. A recent study calls those findings into question.

Magazines and health journals have been publishing studies for years saying a glass of wine is good for your heart. But that may not be the case, according to a recent article by Pacific Standard‘s Nathan Collins. He points to a new study questioning previous medical data that claims an association with health benefits and moderate alcohol consumption.

In the study, researchers have found that compared to people who don’t drink throughout their entire lives, only women over the age of 65 who drank lightly were able to reap some minor benefits from light alcohol consumption. As for all other age and sex groups — no dice.

Researchers from the University College London alongside colleagues from the University of Sydney looked into the Health Survey Data from England and found previous studies weren’t entirely accurate in their assessments of participants. They argue that previous researchers never divided people who were life-long non-drinkers with people who were just now abstaining. Other researchers may have neglected to ask for a complete history of drinking, and only inquiring how many drinks they’d had in the last day, month, or year.

The team of researchers focused on 18,368 adults ages 50 and older. They split the data into groups of people who drank, currently abstain, and never drank. Former drinkers had quite a higher mortality rate compared to other groups.

The researcher concluded:

“Findings indicate that beneficial associations between alcohol consumption and all cause mortality may be attributable in part to inappropriate referent group selection and weak adjustment for confounders.”

They say that to really delve into the health connections, researchers will have to take up better practices:

“Future research should seek to move toward statistical techniques capable of analyzing complex heterogeneous drinking trajectories, such as growth mixture models.”

Read more at Pacific Standard.

Photo Credit: martin.mutch/Flickr

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