Some experts are questioning the common belief that moderate alcohol consumption contributes to good health, The New York Times reports.
Research has shown an association between moderate drinking and lower risk of death, but the skeptics point out that no study has ever proved a causal relationship between the two. They suggest that rather than making people healthy, moderate drinking is something typically done by healthy people.
"The moderate drinkers tend to do everything right -- they exercise, they don't smoke, they eat right and they drink moderately," Kaye Middleton Fillmore, a retired sociologist from the University of California, San Francisco, told the Times. "It's very hard to disentangle all of that, and that's a real problem."
"The bottom line is there has not been a single study done on moderate alcohol consumption and mortality outcomes that is a 'gold standard' kind of study -- the kind of randomized controlled clinical trial that we would be required to have in order to approve a new pharmaceutical agent in this country," Dr. Tim Naimi, an epidemiologist with the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, told the Times.
Critics also expressed concerns about academic centers that accept money from the alcohol beverage industry to pay for studies, train students and publicize their findings.