Even minimal levels of alcohol may influence both short- and long-term health.
A large meta-analysis of over 360,000 adults and 90,000 newly diagnosed hypertensives found that men who averaged 1-2 alcoholic drinks per day had an increased risk for high blood pressure (RR 1.2). As their alcohol intake increased, so did their hypertension risk. In the women, risk began to increase at 3 or more drinks per day.
PositiveTip: Evidence is growing that any level of alcohol is not safe.
This study was inadequately powered to assess long-term safety of alcohol.
The U.S. National Institutes of Health has withdrawn funding for the Moderate Alcohol and Cardiovascular Health Trial (MACH15) because of a possible pro-alcohol primary endpoint and inadequate attention to alcohol hazards like some cancers. Industry funding was also solicited by NIH employees in violation of policy. Bravo, for NIH's willingness to stop supporting this study!
PositiveTip: Good, solid studies leave little question there is any safe level of alcohol use.
In the last couple of posts we have been exploring the issue of moderate drinking. Is it really all it is cracked up to be? Alcohol certainly takes a huge toll on society. The case for moderate drinking has a large number of studies to support its benefits, too. Are there alternative explanations? Certainly!
Last month I had the opportunity to attend the Global Health and Lifestyle Conference in Geneva, Switzerland. One of the speakers I heard was David Williams, PhD, MPH who is a Harvard University professor. He postulated several very interesting alternative explanations for alcohol's purported benefits.