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Member Research & Reports

Member Research & Reports

BU Finds No Net Health Benefits from Moderate Drinking

Will that glass of wine with dinner help you to live longer? Not likely, according to a new study co-authored by a Boston University School of Public Health (BUSPH) researcher.

The paper, published in the Journal of Studies on Alcohol and Drugs, reanalyzed data from 87 long-term studies on alcohol use and mortality, which included nearly four million people and documented causes for 367,103 deaths. At first glance, the studies showed that low-volume drinkers — those who had up to two drinks a day — had lower mortality risks than those who abstained from alcohol. But once the authors adjusted for errors such as how “abstainers” are defined, they found that the protective effect of light drinking disappeared.

“Our study suggests that a skeptical position is warranted in relation to the evidence that low-volume consumption is associated with net health benefits,” said the study team, which includes Dr. Timothy Naimi, associate professor of community health sciences at BUSPH and of medicine at Boston University School of Medicine.

The study also found that before removing errors in how abstainers were defined, it was “occasional drinkers” who consumed less than one drink per week who live the longest. The international team of authors argued that such a tiny consumption level was unlikely to provide any physiological benefits, and so occasional drinkers may be the best group against which to compare other drinkers.

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