New York Times questions wine health studies

  • Wednesday 17 June 2009

A science article front-paged in yesterday’s New York Times raises a question of whether ‘study after study’ that links moderate use of alcohol to health is ‘all a big mistake.’

The article says that ‘some scientists’ claim no study has ‘ever proved a causal relationship between moderate drinking and lower risk of death - only that the two often go together. It may be that moderate drinking is just something healthy people tend to do, not something that makes people healthy.’

The Times’s findings almost certainly will trouble the American wine industry, which for years has trumpeted the supposed health benefits of moderately consumed wine, especially red wine.

The article quotes one critic, Kaye Middleton Fillmore, a sociologist who has retired from the University of California, San Francisco, as saying “Moderate drinkers tend to do everything right - they exercise, they don’t smoke, they eat right and drink moderately. It’s very hard to disentangle all of that, and that’s a real problem.’

The Times also quotes Dr. Tim Naimi, an epidemiologist with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, as saying, ‘The bottom line is there has not been a single study done on moderate alcohol consumption and mortality outcomes that is a “gold standard” kind of study.’

Questions have arisen, the newspaper says, about financial ties between the ‘alcoholic beverage industry and many academic centers, which have accepted industry money to pay for research, train students and promote their findings.’

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