Whilst doing research for a project in another class, I came across an article titled “7 Health Benefits of Drinking Alcohol.” It seemed ironic to me given that alcohol is most commonly associated with health consequences. But at the same time, I recalled reading about how people in France are healthier than Americans despite their higher intake of alcohol. Maybe alcohol consumption does have some benefits, and if so, does a direct link between alcohol consumption and increased health exist?
To clear things up, I am only referring to moderate alcohol consumption; do not fool yourself into thinking that excessive binge-drinking will be beneficial to your health, it will not. I am also referring to alcohol consumption amongst people who are at or past the legal drinking age, health benefits are not an incentive to partake in underage drinking. For people who meet these requirements, moderate consumption means, generally, about one drink a day for women and two drinks a day for men. One moderate drinks refers to 5 ounces of wine, 12 ounces of beer, and 1.5 ounces of hard spirits. Apparently, health benefits associated with moderate alcohol consumption include lowering the risk of cardiovascular disease, lengthening a person’s lifespan, and even lowering the chance of diabetes. However, the claim that most struck me was that alcohol can help moderate Alzheimer’s disease in patients.
Dr. Michael A. Collins, a professor in the Stritch School of Medicine in Loyola University, published a study explaining linkage between moderate alcohol consumption and a decrease in risks of acquiring Alzheimer’s in 143 studies from all over the world, including 365,000 participants. He found that people who moderately consumed alcohol were 23% less likely to develop Alzheimer’s. However, the study might not account for third variables, such as a person’s predisposition to developing dementia. Or, the results could be due to chance, even though Dr. Collins looks at a relatively large amount of studies. Not only this, but his findings could suffer from the file-drawer problem or even the Texas sharpshooter fallacy. And, despite all of Dr. Collins research, this study seems to reject his hypothesis and support the null hypothesis instead. Dr. Suzanne L. Tyas, the researcher, explains biological mechanisms, cites other studies, and accounts for third variables, and ultimately concludes that the extent to which alcohol influences the development of Alzheimer’s is still unknown.
Although the validity of alcohol’s role in Alzheimer’s is still in the air, one thing is for sure: it’s best if you don’t excessively drink. Because studies have only shown correlations and no actualy linkage with scientific evidence between moderate drinking and lower risk of developing Alzheimer’s, we can adopt the null hypothesis for now. And, if you consume one standard drink a day and develop Alzheimer’s in your older age, don’t be surprised.