You probably saw the headlines last month claiming: “No amount of alcohol is safe.” This neo-prohibitionist drivel dominated the news for 24 hours.
Of course, August is a slow news month, which explains why this preposterous Lancet study gained so much media attention in the first place.
Because after looking closely at the study, several major flaws stood out…
The numbers don’t add up
First, the analysis included a mish-mash of almost 200 different studies — including various populations, places, cultures, and lifestyles around the world. But findings that apply to impoverished, poorly nourished countries like the small island of Dominica, for example, probably don’t apply to the U.S., which makes this kind of analysis wildly inaccurate.
The authors themselves even admitted that it’s unclear whether their drastic findings even apply to the majority of Americans!
For example, the study’s authors cited evidence that alcohol consumption causes tuberculosis (TB). But in the U.S., we see very few cases of “alcohol-related” TB…
In the next breath (notwithstanding TB), the authors claimed that alcohol contributes indirectly to cancer and other chronic diseases through complex, unproven mechanisms.
But the numbers just don’t add up.
In fact, after all their statistical manipulations, they said moderate drinkers (one drink per day, or 10 grams of alcohol) have a 1.5 percent higher risk of developing alcohol-related health problems — including self-harm and drunk driving fatalities.
1.5 percent isn’t very note-worthy, is it?
Interestingly enough, most mainstream health experts would laugh and cast these findings aside if a study showed a popular class of drugs — like cholesterol-lowering statins — indirectly increased health risks by an underwhelming 1.5 percent!
Broad benefits outweigh obscure risks
On the other hand, we DO have a wealth of studies showing that moderate alcohol consumption reduces your risk of heart disease and cognitive decline by a whopping 30 to 50 percent!
In fact, the Lancet study authors’ very own analysis actually confirmed that moderate alcohol consumption protects men and women against developing heart disease and Type II diabetes.
And that’s a pretty big deal considering that heart disease is the No. 1 cause of death in the U.S. and Type II diabetes is the leading cause of cardio-metabolic heart disease.
Both diseases are certainly far greater concerns in the U.S. today than tuberculosis!
Still, the study’s authors claim the supposed 1.5 percent increased risk of developing “other” health problems somehow outweighs the huge benefits of protection against heart disease and Type II diabetes.
It boggles the mind…
Second study takes the right approach
Notably, a well-designed BMC Medicine study — published the day before the Lancet study — showed that consistent moderate alcohol consumption can protect against the development of heart disease.
The study analyzed data from six clinical trials involving about 35,000 adults in the U.K. and France over 10 years. (Note the specific, targeted population group!)
During the 10-year period, about 5 percent of study participants developed heart disease. And 1 percent died from it.
However, those who consistently drank moderate amounts of alcohol had a much lower risk of developing heart disease (let alone dying from it) — especially in participants over the age of 55.
Putting it all together, both new studies show that moderate and consistent alcohol consumption prevents heart disease — and most likely Type II diabetes — in older adults.
But you certainly wouldn’t know it from reading the neo-prohibitionist headlines. The only thing missing from the coverage of that laughable study was a grainy photo of government agents (G-men) taking axes to barrels of beer and wine.
You may wonder how such a poorly designed study makes it into the news…much less into a journal like The Lancet, one of the oldest, most well-respected medical journals in the world.
Well, I have my suspicions. And as I learned from my years working in Washington, D.C., all you have to do is follow the money…
Higher alcohol taxes on the agenda
It should come as no surprise that Dame Sally Davies, the Chief Medical Officer of the U.K. (where The Lancet is published), wants to place more taxes on alcohol sales. And a similar campaign is happening here in the U.S.
That’s the real agenda here.
These public figures push the government to fund studies that churn out supposed “dangers” of moderate alcohol consumption. But in reality, they just want to sway public opinion so they can increase taxes on a beneficial habit. Even when they don’t understand the questions, the answer is always, “more taxes.”
I’d advise Dame Davies to visit the vault under the old Blackfriars’ Abbey in her capital of London, where a carved cask bears the inscription:
“He who drinks wine, sleeps well;
He who sleeps well does not sin;
He who does not sin enters heaven.”
P.S. I’ll give you all the details on the benefits of moderation in the November 2018 issue of my Insiders’ Cures newsletter. Not yet a subscriber? You can get my monthly issues (and all seven years of my archives) in just one click!
“Safest level of alcohol consumption is none, worldwide study shows,” Washington Post (washingtonpost.com) 8/23/2018
“No healthy level of alcohol consumption, says major study,” The Guardian (theguardian.com) 8/23/2018
Alcohol use and burden for 195 countries and territories, 1990-2016: a systematic analysis for the Global Burden of Disease Study 2016,” The Lancet (thelancet.com) 8/23/2018