The headlines seem to say it all:
“Alcohol is a global killer, study finds…”
“No level of alcohol consumption is healthy, scientists say…”
“No alcohol is the only safe amount of alcohol for you, study says…”
“Risks of drinking alcohol far outweigh any potential benefits, study authors conclude…”
The study at hand, “Alcohol use and burden for 195 countries and territories, 1990–2016: a systematic analysis for the Global Burden of Disease Study 2016” , was published by The Lancet on August 23rd.
In my many years of academic study, I learned to question your sources. And, that begins by understanding who funds research.
When it comes to alcohol studies, the verdict seems to change bi-annually. For a long time, research concluded positive outcomes from drinking alcohol in moderation. But, much of that research was funded by alcohol companies.
Wine, in particular, seemed the gold standard of alcohol products for maximum health benefits. Headlines for over a decade encouraged:
“Wine is healthy…”
“Wine is good for your heart…”
“Ten health benefits of wine…”
“Red wine is full of antioxidants…”
“Raise a glass to your health…”
“Red or White Wine is packed with amazing health benefits that includes reducing liver diseases, supporting healthy eyes, protecting the teeth, help in reducing vascular diseases, preventing cancer, regulating cholesterol level, supporting healthy bones, enhancing sleep cycle, preventing cold and flu, beneficial to the skin, controlling weight and improving mental health.“ (www.naturalfoodseries.com, August 18, 2018).
And, five days later, a study not funded by an alcohol company dropped the bomb. No amount of alcohol is safe and the risks smash any benefits of consumption. The headlining study was funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.
Naturally, I’m curious about the intentions behind the funding entity. If you dig around online to learn about Bill Gates drinking philosophy, several sources will say Gates does not speak publicly about his views on drinking alcohol, but many close to him have gone on record to say he does not like to drink alcohol very often.
Gates lives in one of the top food and beverage centers in America. Seattle, Washington is world class in food, wine, craft beer and spirits.
The study concludes:
“The widely held view of the health benefits of alcohol needs revising, particularly as improved methods and analyses continue to show how much alcohol use contributes to global death and disability. Our results show that the safest level of drinking is none. This level is in conflict with most health guidelines, which espouse health benefits associated with consuming up to two drinks per day. Alcohol use contributes to health loss from many causes and exacts its toll across the lifespan, particularly among men. Policies that focus on reducing population-level consumption will be most effective in
reducing the health loss from alcohol use.”
Are we in the wake of a new era of prohibition?
Postscript: An article by VOX has since been published and takes a stab at the Lancet study. The write, Julia Belluz, takes a critical look at “nutritional epidemiology”. As a nutritionist, I have to agree. I studied holistic nutrition with the clinical, or western component, centered in functional medicine, along with equal study on Traditional Chinese Medicine. My education taught me to question studies and to consider the sources, meaning who funded the research. Nutrition is often a confusing arena to navigate with so much contradictory information tossed around. There is no one formula that could possibly address every person’s healthcare needs. We are all bio-individuals with unique biochemistry. Making blanket statements in the name of science is just wrong – and the Lancet study did just that.