Over the years, despite the manipulation of the interested companies, this idea has been losing ground and it has been repeated a lot that there are no safe amounts when we talk about alcohol consumption. Now, a macro-study published in one of the most prestigious medical journals in the world puts the matter back on the table. What if the daily glass of wine was healthy (for some)?
What have we discovered? The researchers have analyzed 22 health indicators (things ranging from cardiovascular problems or cancer to more ‘strange’ things such as traffic accidents) of more than one billion people between 15 and 95 years of age from 204 different countries. The data covered more than three decades (from 1990 to 2020) and, as in previous studies, the healthy amount of alcohol that could be consumed was expected to be zero.
And so it was for those under 40, but something strange happened for the older ones. The data showed that, in some people over the age of 40, consuming small amounts of alcohol (between one and two glasses of wine a day) could have some benefits on cardiovascular health or diabetes.
How is it possible that alcohol has something good? According to the researchers, the strongest explanation they have so far seems to be that ethanol could increase the production of HDL (the so-called good cholesterol) and strengthen the endothelium. Two things that come in handy for cardiovascular disease and diabetes. On the contrary, alcohol continues to cause problems by increasing the risk of other diseases such as different cancers or, without going any further, traffic accidents.
The controversy is served. In the Western world (and specifically in Spain due to the significance of the wine industry), the subject of alcohol is a controversial issue. On the one hand, for years, we have been accumulating information about how dangerous alcohol was for our bodies. On the other hand, we have seen how this knowledge has not affected their social prestige too much (alcoholism, yes; but, in reality, that has never had prestige).
What do we do now? The one that The Lancet brings today is one of those studies that will bring a lot of queues because it is easily misunderstood. Above all, the same authors do not advise consuming alcohol to prevent diseases. The data from the study shows that the vast majority of people studied (about 1.3 billion, in fact) consumed harmful amounts of alcohol and, in aggregate terms, not only did they not have any health benefit, but it got worse. This makes it necessary to be very careful when making hasty individual decisions on the subject and brings back to the table the complexity of everything that surrounds health communication.