What’s the deal with alcohol and health?

Like coffee and dark chocolate, alcohol is one of those things where the story seems to keep on changing. One week it’s bad for you, the next week it’s good for you, the week after that it’s bad again but only in large quantities, and it goes on. A recent article by Mencimer in Mother Jones (“Did Drinking Give Me Breast Cancer?”) might look like we’re just in the “alcohol is bad” phase again, but this time seems different. The author makes the assertion that most of the data say alcohol is bad, but the message gets lost due to deliberate actions by the alcohol industry. In this week’s edition of Neiler’s Peer Review, I attempt to get to the bottom of all this confusion.

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If you liked this comic, you can read more of my writing on health and wellness in this comic about microplastics in bottled water. You can also find more of my comics by following me on Twitter @the_neiler and on my homepage, neilercomics.com. I post new comics every Friday. You can also support the comic through small donations via the button below:

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Fillmore KM et al. (2007) Moderate Alcohol Use and Reduced Mortality Risk: Systematic Error in Prospective Studies and New Hypotheses. Ann Epidemiol 17: S16-S23

Klatsky AL et al. (1990) Risk of Cardiovascular Mortality in Alcohol Drinkers, Ex-Drinkers and Nondrinkers. Am J Cardiol 66: 1237-1242

Kono S et al. (1986) Alcohol and Mortality: A Cohort Study of Male Japanese Physicians. Int J Epidemiol 15: 527-532

Lazarus NB et al. (1991) Change in alcohol consumption and risk of death from all causes and from ischaemic heart disease. BMJ Brit Med J 303: 553-556

Maclure M (1993) Demonstration of Deductive Meta-Analysis: Ethanol Intake and Risk of Myocardial Infarction. Epidemiol Rev 15: 328-351

Stampfer MJ et al. (1988) A prospective study of moderate alcohol consumption and the risk of coronary disease and stroke in women. New Engl J Med 319: 267-273

Stockwell T et al. (2016) Do “Moderate” Drinkers Have Reduced Mortality Risk? A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis of Alcohol Consumption and All-Cause Mortality. J Stud Alcohol Drugs 77: 185-198

Wannamethee G, Shaper A (1988) Men Who Do Not Drink: A Report from the British Regional Heart Study. Int J Epidemiol 17: 307-316

Yano K et al. (1977) Coffee, alcohol and risk of coronary heart disease among Japanese men living in Hawaii. New Engl J Med 297: 405-409

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