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Debunk the alcohol myth!

by (598)
Updated October 21, 2014 at 4:37 AM
Created May 06, 2014 at 3:16 PM

I see a few different ideologies floating around. I'm not interested in the question of whether alcohol is "paleo" right now (though I think the answer is no)... But subjectively I see an overwhelming majority of paleohackers espousing the notion that people should not drink. AT ALL... because alcohol is bad... So where do you really stand on the issue?

Myth 1:

Alcohol is bad for your health and we'd all be better off practicing abstinence.

----------------------------------

Myth 2:

Alcohol in moderation has numerous health benefits including but not limited to a reduction in all-cause mortality risk, improved cardiovascular health, and maybe even better brain function.

---------------------------------

The way I see it these are mutually exclusive. They can't both be wrong or both be right. Either way, let's throw in a...

Third Myth:

Moderate alcohol consumption has no effect on health and longevity. It's a personal choice.

---------------------------------

So, where do you stand? Want to bust out some studies or anecdotes?

Side question:

Should we be recommending light drinking, even a couple drinks a night, as an important part of a healthy diet and lifestyle?

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598 · May 09, 2014 at 8:01 PM

Awesome thanks Paleot!

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1005 · May 09, 2014 at 7:26 PM

Once you get your genetic data, http://snpedia.com/index.php/SNPedia becomes as fun to poke around on as pubmed.

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1005 · May 09, 2014 at 7:07 PM

Haha, it might have been. I'm an Apoe E3/E4. Apparently the E4 is a Paleolithic gene (in the centenarian documentary you posted a while back, there was a decent percentage that made it through with a copy.) 23andme was the easiest approach, several years back when I did mine, but the FDA didn't like what they were up to and I think the data has been restricted.

I ran my raw data through Genetic Genie and Promethease. It was $99 bucks, maybe an additional $5 here and there. You spit in a test tube and mail it back. Also found stupid amounts of distant relatives.

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598 · May 09, 2014 at 6:57 PM

God how I miss a good opaque unfiltered beer. I found that I felt better consuming wine or liquor but that may be due more to carbonation than anything else. My tolerance for carbonation seems to vary a great deal with what I've recently eaten.

In conclusion, you've inspired me to pick up some unfiltered beer and give it a go when I'm feeling up to the task of processing the carbonated liquid. I also used to drink more at once. 1 or 2 bottles should be a safe bet.

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598 · May 09, 2014 at 6:48 PM

Was it you in another topic who got me seriously considering getting my genetic profile done? How do you get your genome sequenced/screened and how much does it cost and where do you go?

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1005 · May 09, 2014 at 6:51 AM

These are interesting tidbits:

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24049153

Light and moderate alcohol consumption during late life was associated with greater decline in learning and memory among APOE e4 carriers, whereas light and moderate alcohol consumption was associated with an increase in learning and memory among non-APOE e4 carriers.

http://ajcn.nutrition.org/content/73/4/736.abstract

LDL cholesterol in men with the E2 allele was significantly lower in drinkers than in nondrinkers but was significantly higher in drinkers than in nondrinkers in men with the E4 allele.

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529 · May 09, 2014 at 12:55 AM

Thanks. I was not familiar with the "sick quitter" term.

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529 · May 09, 2014 at 12:46 AM

"..it's simply another nutritious fermented food." LOL. I will try that line sometime. I hope you are right... drinking beer in the summer is wonderful.

Medium avatar
598 · May 08, 2014 at 6:42 PM

In fact, looking past the chemical (alcohol) itself, I suspect much of the benefit from drinking is because it acts as a social lubricant and socialization improves almost every health marker. It also forces the mind to calm down and relax (the proverbial "drink after work") which could be very therapeutic. Perhaps alcohol itself doesn't do anything magical on a cellular level. Who knows? But it still seems to confer dramatic benefits to light drinkers, and some benefits even to heavy drinkers.

Medium avatar
598 · May 08, 2014 at 6:42 PM

Another thing to consider is that people who abstain for their whole lives often suffer from other health issues or a family history of alcoholism which could further throw the numbers off. There are always confounding variables.

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598 · May 08, 2014 at 6:39 PM

Absolutely. And studies have confirmed a relationship here. It's called the "sick quitters" phenomenon. Additional studies have corrected for this by eliminating all previous drinkers from the abstainers list (including only folks who have never drank) and still found significant benefits. Those sick quitters were throwing off the numbers, but only by a little.

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26182 · May 08, 2014 at 1:26 PM

As to the earlier studes -- you know my stance on observational studies.

As to the receipt analysis -- Makes sense. I buy both. When I buy wine I am usually cooking a nice meal to go with it (or I am cooking with it). So naturally I am buying high quality meat, veggies, etc. I usually buy beer as part of my normal shop, or when I am going over to a party of some sort. So burgers, hot dogs, cold cuts, sausages, chips, etc are far more likely to be part of my list. -- And I am the same person.

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4991 · May 08, 2014 at 7:52 AM

Fascinating! Benefits up to 30 drinks per week (I assume that units are meant?). The very last sentence in your extract is also very interesting.

Medium avatar
598 · May 07, 2014 at 10:32 PM

I guess @CDone was the only person up for the challenge. Any other contenders? Maybe someone on my side or something anecdotal? CDone has spurred me to do extra research just LOOKING for negatives (and positives) and I'm more confident and inspired than ever to partake in my nightly two drinks. It's no longer a mere habit, but a healthy ritual I'll likely practice until the day I die.

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598 · May 07, 2014 at 5:56 PM

I just want to reiterate with a source that the benefits of beer and distilled spirits are essentially the same as those of wine, suggesting that the additional nutrients found in some alcohol sources have nothing to do with the benefits of alcohol itself. Early research seemed to suggest that wine was best, but this analysis of supermarket receipts suggests that there were confounding variable at work: people buy healthy foods with wine, and packaged/processed foods with beer.

Medium avatar
598 · May 07, 2014 at 5:00 PM

THESE are good questions and I'd like to see them answered. Still, in all the studies I've seen that attempted to separate spirits from wine and beer, they found little to no difference. You could argue that a vodka drinker likely has a glass or two of wine per week.

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598 · May 07, 2014 at 4:58 PM

Again, there was no significant difference between the benefits derived from red wine and those from distilled spirits... AFAIK there's no polyphenols in vodka but I admit I haven't done my research yet. Off to learn more about polyphenols... TY for the push.

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598 · May 07, 2014 at 4:57 PM

I was actually pointing out that fit people didn't seem to benefit as much by increasing from 1-3 drinks to significantly more, as compared with unfit. Still, they benefited significantly from moderate consumption and it does not matter whether it was from distilled spirits or red wine so I ask this: does vodka have polyphenols?

Medium avatar
598 · May 07, 2014 at 4:53 PM

Very true. You could conceivably reason your way out of admitting that alcohol itself confers health benefits, but you'd have to work pretty hard at it and you'd probably be wrong. There are innumerable studies showing the benefits of moderate alcohol consumption and little to none showing downsides.

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26182 · May 07, 2014 at 2:38 AM

I guess ultimately the questions #1 are there health benefits to ethanol. I have yet to see a study where they have used pure alcohol to measure the benefits.

If not #1 (and there is not a clear answer AFAIK) than

#2 is ethanol a necessary byproduct to get the health benefits in alcoholic drinks, or are there other ways to gain the same health benefits without ethanol.

Finally,

#3 Is ethanol poisonous at all levels of ingestion.

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26182 · May 07, 2014 at 1:52 AM

My guess is there are several benefits that alcohol imparts. I focus on polyphenols because it's one of the easier things to test. It may raise your HDL (although it can also raise your trigs), it also reduces platelet clumping, lowering risk of clots.

I still do not believe that alcohol is the sole source of these benefits. And I'd like to see a study that compared diets with comparable inputs from different sources (alcohol and non-alcohol).

Of course such a study would be far too expensive to conduct.

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26182 · May 07, 2014 at 1:46 AM

I would argue that this effect makes my point stronger. There's plenty of science out there that polyphenols support reducing oxidative stress caused by exercise (http://acaijagody.pl/pdf/EFFECTS_OF_POLYPHENOLIC_ANT.pdf). Thus someone who is "fit" likely has a higher need for polyphenols. However, if these same "fit" people consumed a non-alcholic diet that was high in polyphenols would they do better than their identical counterparts who required wine to receive those benefits...

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26182 · May 07, 2014 at 1:43 AM

sorry, I would need to see a residual mean square ANOVA analysis to even begin to come to the same conclusion. And while I am too tired to care enough to throw it into WARP, I'd imagine you would see a similar effect (although dampened). I would still argue that there is no control for *what* the benefit is, and whether there are other sources.

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26182 · May 07, 2014 at 1:39 AM

with respect to the all cause mortality and CVD mortality. There may be other markers that are not considered where there are negative effects. And they are being compared to non-drinkers, not non-drinkers who have equivalent polyphenol intake. One can still make the argument that the benefit of alcohol could be consumed elsewhere in the diet without the negatives.

Medium avatar
598 · May 06, 2014 at 8:16 PM

I must interject a cautionary statement regarding peer pressure and over-consumption. While drinking 7 drinks one night and none the rest of the week averages out to 1/day, the benefits seem to disappear and some of the risks of heavy drinking come into play. If you and your friends go out and have a drink or two, fine. I know that's not how it works for me. "Going out" for "Social drinking" usually leads to at least a few more drinks than you'd have quietly with your family over dinner or a movie.

Medium avatar
598 · May 06, 2014 at 8:12 PM

I actually looked into this and found a this study, along with another more directly related to socialization that I seem to have lost. It would appear that the impact of alcohol on our social functioning confers little if any benefit beyond the alcohol itself, as far as all-cause mortality risk is concerned.

I feel you about the 2nd category thing though. I have been in that boat but have since improved greatly on my self control and discipline. This is why I always try to include the disclaimer that some folks should just avoid alcohol, especially if they tend to overconsume it.

Medium avatar
598 · May 06, 2014 at 8:00 PM

Like you, this isn't why I drink. I don't kid myself. In fact, I'd probably be more productive without my nightly drinks which is why I'm so zealously challenging folks to give me a good excuse to quit.

As it stands, however, the science gives me good reason to disregard all the "alcohol is bad for you" rhetoric circulating among health freaks like myself. Given my interest in minimizing mortality risk, I find it hard to justify kicking the habit.

Medium avatar
598 · May 06, 2014 at 7:58 PM

Then there's fitness level. It makes sense that a more fit person could handle more alcohol and it didn't appear very protective when compared to just a little for fit people, but fit folks did show lower risk at higher consumption oddly enough. In the end though, no matter your category or your choice of "poison" it seems that moderate consumption correlated with significantly reduced risk for all-cause mortality.

Medium avatar
598 · May 06, 2014 at 7:55 PM

However, your other points are significant. You may find table 4 interesting. Of course this isn't the only study to scrutinize either - just search around. This was the first one that popped up...

Anyway, table 4 seems to indicate that there was a greater marginal benefit to a little more booze for people who were older than 60, or who were deemed "unhealthy" though I don't know what measures they used to distinguish between healthy and unhealthy.

Medium avatar
598 · May 06, 2014 at 7:50 PM

+1 for a well-reasoned response, though I don't completely agree with you. While I suspect that quality red wines and dark beers may confer additional benefits, refer to section 3.3 in the study I linked in the OP entitled "Type of Alcohol" ... They concluded that "there were no significant differences in risk for any three of the alcohol types in comparison to nondrinkers."

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39841 · May 08, 2014 at 11:33 PM

My refrigerator is absurdly packed with beer. I enjoy buying it more than drinking it for some reason. I think collecting Ninja Turtles as a kid has something to do with that, but I digress....

Anyway, beer is actually fairly nutritious, and I don't believe I've ever seen a study that showed teetotalers to have a health/longevity advantage over moderate drinkers. Sometimes the studies will define "moderate drinkers" the way I would define "alcoholics," so there may be quite a bit of leeway.

I've seen studies that showed that moderate beer consumption increased bone mineral density by ~5% (it was presumed that the silicon content (silicontent?) was the important factor.

I saw another one where beer consumption lowered homocysteine levels (and presumably CVD risk) due, if I recall, to the vitamin b12, b6, and folate content.

Beer has about 20mg of magnesium per serving and the manufacture of it removes about 95% of the phytic acid, so any minerals should be largely bioavailable.

The cancer studies went both directions depending on the cancer in question and especially depending upon whether the individuals smoke as well. Alcohol really potentiates the carcinogenic nature of tobacco. I would imagine that any cancer issue would come down to the ethanol metabolite acetaldehyde.

Due, I suppose, to my consistently high vitamin D levels (or good luck), I have zero reaction to wheat, so I actually drink unfiltered German weissbeer. Nothing quite like a cold Franziskaner on a hot day.

As I stated in another thread recently, my alcohol tolerance is completely dependent upon zinc status, and I would wager that very few paleoers are zinc deficient, so I would expect the risks of drinking alcohol to be far less in this cohort. My reasoning being that if you're upregulating the activity of the ADH enzymes via zinc sufficiency, you're probably upregulating the activity of the ALDH ones as well.

People are spooked by alcohol (I know I was for a while) but after looking at it logically, I've realized that (at least in the case of beer) it's simply another nutritious fermented food. I don't think it's anywhere near as beneficial as the natto I eat most days, but all told I would expect it to be a net positive.

That all being said, those calories definitely add up, although I've found beer to produce a surprising degree of satiety when consumed alone. Calorie for calorie, I doubt it's much worse than, say, apples.

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529 · May 09, 2014 at 12:46 AM

"..it's simply another nutritious fermented food." LOL. I will try that line sometime. I hope you are right... drinking beer in the summer is wonderful.

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0 · May 08, 2014 at 6:28 PM

I may have several drinks throughout the week and some on the weekends, depends. I am sure that some alcohol has some benefits if consumed moderately others probably do not. My thought is if you enjoy it why quit, unless it inters with your life or you have a substance problem. I exercise 5-6 days a week and eat very healthy, so I have one vice! If I have to give up cake, I am keeping alcohol.

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529 · May 08, 2014 at 8:19 AM

I've read that abstainer groups often include alcoholics (who've quit), or people with a history of substance abuse.

Could worse health/cognitive performance be related to the damage they've already caused to themselves?

Medium avatar
598 · May 08, 2014 at 6:42 PM

In fact, looking past the chemical (alcohol) itself, I suspect much of the benefit from drinking is because it acts as a social lubricant and socialization improves almost every health marker. It also forces the mind to calm down and relax (the proverbial "drink after work") which could be very therapeutic. Perhaps alcohol itself doesn't do anything magical on a cellular level. Who knows? But it still seems to confer dramatic benefits to light drinkers, and some benefits even to heavy drinkers.

Medium avatar
598 · May 08, 2014 at 6:42 PM

Another thing to consider is that people who abstain for their whole lives often suffer from other health issues or a family history of alcoholism which could further throw the numbers off. There are always confounding variables.

Medium avatar
598 · May 08, 2014 at 6:39 PM

Absolutely. And studies have confirmed a relationship here. It's called the "sick quitters" phenomenon. Additional studies have corrected for this by eliminating all previous drinkers from the abstainers list (including only folks who have never drank) and still found significant benefits. Those sick quitters were throwing off the numbers, but only by a little.

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598 · May 07, 2014 at 5:05 PM

This is an interesting article!!!

I haven't even finished reading it but was so eager to post here. Especially interesting are the effects of moderate drinking on cognitive performance and incidence of dementia...

If you have the self control to keep it to "moderation" and are still questioning my stance on the issue I strongly suggest you READ THIS ASAP...

This is one (perhaps my favorite) section:

Alzheimer's Disease and Other Dementia

  • A study in France found moderate drinkers to have a 75% lower risk for Alzheimer's Disease and an 80% lower risk for senile dementia.109
  • Research on 7,460 women age 65 and older found that those who consumed up to three drinks per day scored significantly better than non-drinkers on global cognitive function, including such things as concentration, memory, abstract reasoning, and language. The investigators adjusted or controlled for such factors as educational level and income that might affect the results, but the significant positive relationships remained.110
  • Researchers in Australia studied 7,485 people age 20 to 64 years. They found that moderate drinkers performed better than abstainers on all measures of cognitive ability. Sex, race, education and extroversion-introversion failed to account for the findings.111
  • Older people who drink in moderation generally suffer less mental decline than do abstainers, another study finds. Over one thousand persons age 65 and older were studied over a period of seven years. Overall, light and moderate drinkers experienced less mental decline than did non-drinkers.112
  • Women who consume alcohol (beer, wine or distilled spirits) moderately on a daily basis are about 20% less likely than abstainers to experience poor memory and decreased thinking abilities, according to data from 12,480 women age 70 to 81 who participated in the long-term study.113
  • A study of about 6,000 people age 65 and older found that moderate drinkers have a 54% lower chance of developing dementia than abstainers. The type of alcohol beverage consumed (wine, spirits, or beer) didn't make a difference in the protective effects of drinking in moderation.114
  • A study of 7,983 people aged 55 of age or older in The Netherlands over an average period of six years found that those who consumed one to three drinks of alcohol (beer, wine, or distilled spirits) per day had a significantly lower risk of dementia (including Alzheimer's) than did abstainers.115
  • A study of over 400 people at least 75 years old who were followed for a period of six years found that drinkers were only half as likely to develop dementia (including Alzheimer's disease) as similarly-aged abstainers from alcohol. Abstainers were defined as people who consumed less than one drink of alcohol per week.116
  • Moderate drinking among older women can benefit memory according to research funded by the National Institutes of Health. Moderate drinkers performed better on instrumental everyday tasks, had stronger memory self-efficacy and improved memory performance." The performance memory tests include such topics as remembering a story, route, hidden objects, future intentions and connecting random numbers and letters. In all cases, the group who drank scored better than those who did not drink. Women who drank alcohol in moderation (defined as consuming up to two drinks of beer, wine or spirits per day) also performed better on attention, concentration, psychomotor skills, verbal-associative capacities and oral fluency.117
  • A study of 1,018 men and women age 65-79 whose physical and mental health was monitored for an average of 23 years found that "drinking no alcohol, or too much, increases risk of cognitive impairment," in the words of the editor of the British Medical Journal, which published the study.
  • A study of over 6,000 people in the U.K. found that those who consume as little as a single drink of alcoholic beverage per week have significantly greater cognitive functioning than teetotalers. Abstainers were twice as likely as occasional drinkers to receive the lowest cognitive functioning test scores. The beneficial mental effects of alcohol were found when a person drinks up to about 30 drinks per week, and increased with consumption. The researchers did not test the effects of higher levels of alcohol drinking. The research team suggests that alcohol (beer, wine, or liquor) improves mental functioning because it increases blood flow to the brain.118
  • Moderate alcohol consumption protects older persons from the development of cognitive impairment, according to a study of 15,807 Italian men and women 65 years of age and older. Among the drinkers only 19% showed signs of mental impairment compared to 29% of the abstainers. The relationship continued even when other factors in cognitive impairment, such as age, education, and health problems were considered.119
  • An 18-year study of Japanese-American men found "a positive association between moderate alcohol intake among middle-aged men and subsequent cognitive performance in later life." Moderate drinkers scored significantly higher on the Cognitive Abilities Screening Instrument (CASI), which includes tests of attention, concentration, orientation, memory, and language. Both non-drinkers and heavy drinkers had the lowest CASI scores.120
  • The moderate consumption of alcohol was associated with superior mental function among older women compared to abstainers in a study of 9,000 women aged 70 to 79 over a period of 15 years. The women's mental function was assessed with seven different tests. After adjusting for other factors that might affect mental function, the researchers found that the women who drank in moderation performed significantly better on five of seven tests. They also performed significantly better on a global score that combined all seven tests. The researchers found that the effect of moderate alcohol consumption on cognitive functioning was the equivalent of being one to two years younger.121
  • Drinking alcohol (beer, wine or liquor) in moderation is one of the strategies that can reduce the risk of cognitive decline and dementia in later life according to a review of research conducted by scholars from the School of Aging Studies at the University of South Florida and the University of Alabama at Birmingham. They systematically analyzed the existing research to identify how dementia can be reduced. Abstaining from alcohol and abusing alcohol are both risk factors for cognitive decline and dementia.122

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1005 · May 09, 2014 at 6:51 AM

These are interesting tidbits:

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24049153

Light and moderate alcohol consumption during late life was associated with greater decline in learning and memory among APOE e4 carriers, whereas light and moderate alcohol consumption was associated with an increase in learning and memory among non-APOE e4 carriers.

http://ajcn.nutrition.org/content/73/4/736.abstract

LDL cholesterol in men with the E2 allele was significantly lower in drinkers than in nondrinkers but was significantly higher in drinkers than in nondrinkers in men with the E4 allele.

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4991 · May 08, 2014 at 7:52 AM

Fascinating! Benefits up to 30 drinks per week (I assume that units are meant?). The very last sentence in your extract is also very interesting.

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26182 · May 06, 2014 at 4:02 PM

Myth #1 and Myth #2 are not mutually exclusive.

Polyphenols are more abundant in red wine than in the raw fruits that make up that wine. But many spices like tumeric and cinnamin have higher concentrations than wine. So this brings up two questions (1) is the increase in polyphenols a benefit for someone who is eating a clean diet with lots of fruits, or is it only beneficial in those following a SAD with moderate to low fruit. (2) Would we be better off if those observational studies compared a diet rich in fruit, herbs, and spices without any alcohol consumption.

My take on what I have seen is that the benefits of drinking alcohol are marginal. As long as alcohol stays below 2%-5% of your caloric load (assuming you are not over-eating) then the health consequences are marginal as well.

Personally I drink beer, wine, and scotch. I probably have 3-5 drinks per week on a typical week and never more than 2 in a day (and that's pretty rare). I drink because I like it, but I do not try to kid myself and think that I am doing it for health reasons.

Medium avatar
598 · May 07, 2014 at 5:56 PM

I just want to reiterate with a source that the benefits of beer and distilled spirits are essentially the same as those of wine, suggesting that the additional nutrients found in some alcohol sources have nothing to do with the benefits of alcohol itself. Early research seemed to suggest that wine was best, but this analysis of supermarket receipts suggests that there were confounding variable at work: people buy healthy foods with wine, and packaged/processed foods with beer.

Medium avatar
598 · May 06, 2014 at 8:00 PM

Like you, this isn't why I drink. I don't kid myself. In fact, I'd probably be more productive without my nightly drinks which is why I'm so zealously challenging folks to give me a good excuse to quit.

As it stands, however, the science gives me good reason to disregard all the "alcohol is bad for you" rhetoric circulating among health freaks like myself. Given my interest in minimizing mortality risk, I find it hard to justify kicking the habit.

Medium avatar
598 · May 06, 2014 at 7:58 PM

Then there's fitness level. It makes sense that a more fit person could handle more alcohol and it didn't appear very protective when compared to just a little for fit people, but fit folks did show lower risk at higher consumption oddly enough. In the end though, no matter your category or your choice of "poison" it seems that moderate consumption correlated with significantly reduced risk for all-cause mortality.

Medium avatar
598 · May 06, 2014 at 7:55 PM

However, your other points are significant. You may find table 4 interesting. Of course this isn't the only study to scrutinize either - just search around. This was the first one that popped up...

Anyway, table 4 seems to indicate that there was a greater marginal benefit to a little more booze for people who were older than 60, or who were deemed "unhealthy" though I don't know what measures they used to distinguish between healthy and unhealthy.

Medium avatar
598 · May 06, 2014 at 7:50 PM

+1 for a well-reasoned response, though I don't completely agree with you. While I suspect that quality red wines and dark beers may confer additional benefits, refer to section 3.3 in the study I linked in the OP entitled "Type of Alcohol" ... They concluded that "there were no significant differences in risk for any three of the alcohol types in comparison to nondrinkers."

Medium avatar
0
0 · May 06, 2014 at 3:59 PM

What's the point of looking and feeling so great on the paleo diet if your staying in all the time? Enjoy your Vodka! :)

Medium avatar
598 · May 06, 2014 at 8:16 PM

I must interject a cautionary statement regarding peer pressure and over-consumption. While drinking 7 drinks one night and none the rest of the week averages out to 1/day, the benefits seem to disappear and some of the risks of heavy drinking come into play. If you and your friends go out and have a drink or two, fine. I know that's not how it works for me. "Going out" for "Social drinking" usually leads to at least a few more drinks than you'd have quietly with your family over dinner or a movie.

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0 · May 06, 2014 at 3:47 PM

I'm not sure alcohol has any health benefits for the physical body but the consumption may benefit an individual's mentality if they socialize more and have more fun while treating themselves to some moderate alcohol. If the individual doesn't have enough self control then they might find that the benefits are outweighed by regrets. I know I fall into the 2nd category because when I drink, paleo goes out the window and I eat ALL THE THINGS in sight.

Medium avatar
598 · May 06, 2014 at 8:12 PM

I actually looked into this and found a this study, along with another more directly related to socialization that I seem to have lost. It would appear that the impact of alcohol on our social functioning confers little if any benefit beyond the alcohol itself, as far as all-cause mortality risk is concerned.

I feel you about the 2nd category thing though. I have been in that boat but have since improved greatly on my self control and discipline. This is why I always try to include the disclaimer that some folks should just avoid alcohol, especially if they tend to overconsume it.

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