Does drinking alcohol provide any health benefit? In a widely publicized report in The Lancet in 2018, researchers concluded that there is no healthy level of alcohol consumption. But, a new analysis of the data may offer a sliver of hope for the world’s tipplers.

No health benefits of alcohol?

Up until the last few years, the general consensus had been that moderate drinking did not cause much health risk, and even provided some health benefits in terms of lower mortality and reduced risk of coronary heart disease. Researchers described a J-curve in which light or moderate drinking (one to two drinks per day for women and two to four drinks per day for men) provided more health benefits than abstaining from alcohol. However, drinking alcohol in excess of those moderate limits resulted in dose-dependent increases in the risks of certain cancers, cirrhosis, and death.

When the study in The Lancet appeared, it dashed any idea of the health benefits of alcohol. It made headlines on major news outlets like the BBCCNN, and The New York Times.

“Our results show that the safest level of drinking is none,” the authors concluded. “This level is in conflict with most health guidelines, which espouse health benefits associated with consuming up to two drinks per day.”

 

Quinn Dombrowski [CC BY-SA 2.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

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