On Wednesday, we reported about the recent study about health and alcohol — and the effects of any alcohol. Today, we offer another view.
“A paper was published in The Lancet that claimed to be the definitive study on the benefits and dangers of drinking. The news was apparently not good for those who enjoy alcoholic beverages. It was covered in the news media with headlines like ‘There’s No Safe Amount of Alcohol.’ The truth is much less newsy and much more measured.”
“There are limitations that warrant consideration. Observational data can be very confounded, meaning that unmeasured factors might be the actual cause of the harm. Perhaps people who drink also smoke tobacco. Perhaps people who drink are also poorer. Perhaps there are genetic differences, health differences, or other factors that might be the real cause. There are techniques to analyze observational data in a more causal fashion, but none of them could be used here, because this analysis aggregated past studies — and those studies didn’t use them.”
“The news warns that even one drink per day carries a risk. But how great is that risk? For each set of 100,000 people who have one drink a day per year, 918 can expect to experience one of the 23 alcohol-related problems in any year. Of those who drink nothing, 914 can expect to experience a problem. This means that 99,082 are unaffected, and 914 will have an issue no matter what. Only 4 in 100,000 people who consume a drink a day may have a problem caused by the drinking, according to this study.”
NONETHELESS, “This message shouldn’t get lost in any argument: There is no debate, and this study confirms once again, that heavy drinking is really bad for you.”
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