Having a glass of wine with dinner occasionally may not actually help you live longer, say researchers. Studies previously suggested a 'moderate' amount of alcohol can reduce risks of some diseases, but researchers from the University of Victoria, British Columbia say there is still reason to be sceptical.
Research published in the Journal of Studies on Alcohol and Drugs disputes previous studies related to the benefits of an occasional drink on health. The study says that previous investigations have shown bias in their reports when analysing the 'abstainer' group.
"There's a general idea out there that alcohol is good for us, because that's what you hear reported all the time," said Tim Stockwell, lead researcher working on the investigation. "But there are many reasons to be sceptical."
For each of the 87 previous investigations, the effect of alcohol on health was split into three broad categories; those that drink a lot of alcohol, those that drink some, and those that drink none. The researchers found a problem with the group categorised as drinking no alcohol at all, or the 'abstainers'. They say the past studies included recovering alcoholics, and those that cannot drink due to other health conditions.
Including these people would raise the risk of heart disease and other illnesses – ultimately making their entire abstainer group seem worse, and those that have a couple of drinks every week appear better.
The research team discounted all 87 past studies that did not factor in this 'bias', and found only 13 remained. All of these showed no health advantages to an occasional drink.
Stockwell believes some of the health benefits associated with a couple of drinks per week is far-fetched and doubtful. "Either alcohol is a panacea, or moderate drinking is really a marker of something else," he said.