When you’re in recovery, it can be tough to read about medical studies touting the health benefits of alcohol. “Drinking red wine is good for your heart,” and “A glass of wine a day will help you live longer,” the headlines read. Yeah, right, you might think. Years of miserable and traumatic life experiences have taught you that alcohol is the last thing your heart and lifespan need.
Now, finally, science appears to agree. According to the results of a study conducted at Massey University’s College of Health in New Zealand, alcohol may have little or no health benefits. In fact, even moderate drinking may be bad for a person’s health, particularly for older adults.
A glass of wine a day likely won’t keep the doctor away, say study’s authors.
When researchers examined the data from a previous study that had appeared to suggest that those who drink in moderation are healthier than those who drink heavily or not at all, they stumbled upon a surprising finding.
Earlier analysts had overlooked an environmental factor that may have been skewing their results: socioeconomic status.
Wealth, not wine.
According to the Massey University team, a possible reason why people who drink regularly but moderately tend to be healthier and live longer may be because they’re also wealthier. Those with higher incomes can afford a glass of wine with dinner, and they can also afford other benefits that those in poor demographics frequently cannot, such as proper nutrition and quality healthcare.
When the researchers controlled for participants’ socioeconomic status, they found that moderate drinking had little positive effect on women’s physical health and zero effect on men’s physical health. While the study only looked at older adults (65 was the average participant age), the research team has asserted that their findings may likely apply to other age demographics as well.
“Our results support a growing international body of research showing there is little evidence of any health benefit of alcohol use for younger or older people that cannot be explained by other lifestyle factors,” said Dr. Andy Towers, the lead researcher on the School of Public Health study.
If you’re interested in learning more, this article written by the study’s lead researcher, goes into further detail and explanation of the study’s findings and implications.
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