Sunday, December 13, 2015

Claims of alcohol health benefits jump the shark

Common sense dictates that a toxic drug and known carcinogen cannot have evidence-based health-improving properties any more than a tree full of elves actually painted little fudge stripes on these cookies. It's wishful thinking observational data. An observational study that's garnered recent attention was released by Danish researchers in Dec. 2015 claiming two to three units of alcohol a day can prolong life for patient's with Alzheimer's.(Share the YouTube video or read the entire article)

It's an observation, based on a large population survey, without taking into account other lifestyle factors. And it ignores the evidence that two to three units of alcohol daily is one sign of the disease of alcoholism, as well as a contributing factor for more than 60 other diseases including a risk factor for eight types of cancer as covered in a previous segment. (See "Alcohol a carcinogen hiding in plain sight")

What also was a segment topic just a month before the headline-grabbing Danish study was that evidence-based science shows a connection between alcohol use and an increased risk of Alzheimer's and dementia due to the cellular-level damage the toxin causes in brain structure. (See related episode) So observational studying shows life increasing qualities of the drug, and evidence-based studies show the same drug causing the problem. To put it briefly, one study says it makes you live longer, science says it kills you. Same drug.

The biggest problem caused by the collision between observation and evidence is with 21 million U.S. alcoholics like me. An active alcoholic gloms onto any piece of information that justifies our daily or continued drinking. That's how the disease works on the mind until we get into recovery. Alcohol's health benefits do not exist, not for a so-called social drinker, and certainly not for the person with the disease of alcoholism. The disease is chronic, progressive, primary and fatal unless treated into remission.

When public translation of observational studies links alcohol to improved brain or heart health (another former topic, see "Junk Science vs. facts on alcohol and heart, liver health") it shifts the dialogue from what alcohol does to you, to the wishful thinking of what it does for you. That's when health news has officially jumped the shark.

Visit for a replay of CBS Sports' Power Up Your Health featuring Scott Stevens.  Host Ed Forteau led a discussion on risky myths of about "healthy" drinking.  Lucy Pireel's "All That's Written" included a feature on Every Silver Lining Has a Cloud called "When alcohol doesn't work for you anymore."  Details on the third literary award for Every Silver Lining Has a Cloud and the first for Adding Fire to the Fuel also can be found on, plus the NEW book, Adding Fire to the Fuel, is now available. Download the FREE Alcohology app in the Google PlayStore today