Heavy drinking is linked to a range of serious health consequences. These include certain cancers, liver and heart disease, and damage to the nervous system, including the brain. However, as has been exhaustively covered in the popular press, drinking in moderation might have certain health benefits.
A number of studies have concluded that drinking alcohol at a low level could have a protective effect.One study, for instance, found that light and moderate drinking protected against all-cause mortality, as well as mortality related to cardiovascular disease.
It is no surprise that these stories have been well-received and widely read, but not all researchers agree, and the debate is ongoing.A recent study led by Dr. Timothy Naimi, of the Boston Medical Center in Massachusetts, adds further fuel to an already rampant blaze.
The authors take aim at the methodology used in earlier studies, and they published their findings in the Journal of Studies on Alcohol and Drugs earlier this week. The researchers argue that the way that earlier studies measured alcohol’s impact on health might be flawed. Specifically, they note that the studies are generally observational and usually recruit participants over the age of 50.
The authors argue that this is problematic because it excludes anyone who might have died due to alcohol before the age of 50. As they dryly point out, “Deceased persons cannot be enrolled in cohort studies.”
Dr. Naimi first outlined his concerns about this inherent selection bias in a paper published in the journal Addiction in 2017.