Well, well, well. The too-good-to-be true research that found that moderate drinking is healthy is now heaving into a porcelain bowl. Moderate drinking is actually not that healthy. Since we know that alcohol acts as a poison, this shouldn’t really surprise anyone. But the older research implied that even though alcohol causes inflammation and cells to age faster, that there was some middle step where ‘a miracle occurs, somehow’ and a glass of wine a day kept the Grim Reaper away.

The new research actually is a re-analysis of many pieces of older data, a so-called meta-analysis, of 600,000 people. It found that the chance of earlier death increased above one glass of wine per day (100 grams per week). The lower the alcohol consumption, the lower risk of stroke, aneurysm, and cardiovascular disease. The one exception was for fatal heart attacks – moderate alcohol consumption was correlated with a lower risk. (Remember that correlation is not causation.)

Why is the wishful drinking research stumbling and slurring its words? Because the comparison was between all drinkers to non-drinkers rather than comparing light to moderate to heavy drinkers. These earlier comparisons were flawed from a distributional point of view. Just think of all the reasons a person may be put in a non-drinker category that would make that group fundamentally different than a moderate drinker. People who can’t drink for medical reasons, because they are recovering alcoholics who were previously heavy drinkers, ‘sick quitters’ who don’t drink because they drank too much, etc. For a good discussion, see this Vox article.

Apologies to Carrie Fisher for stealing the title of her memoir. Then again, if you want an example of what hard alcohol abuse (yes, and other drugs, including tobacco) can do to you, watch the last Star Wars movie she was in. She was about 59 when she made The Last Jedi, but looked and moved like she was 15-20 years older.

Wishful drinking: booze is unsafe at any ounce
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