Moderate drinking has been linked to several benefits, but it's too soon to pour a glass in pursuit of good health.
That was the response of several doctors and alcohol researchers to an editorial based on a critical analysis of recent studies in the journal Addiction.
Many studies have found that people who have one or two drinks per day also have a lowered risk for more than 20 health problems, including coronary heart disease, type 2 diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis and the common cold.
But that's not enough to recommend using alcohol to stave off those conditions, the experts said.
For one thing, most of the evidence for benefits comes from observational studies, which find associations between lifestyle choices and health outcomes but don't prove that one causes the other. People who drink moderately might live healthier lives in general.
"People who drink low risk amounts are much more likely to get mammograms and have their teeth checked by a dentist, to go see a physician for a physical, to exercise," the experts noted.
The existing evidence might reassure those who already drink moderately that they may be getting some benefit and may not be doing much harm. But those who do not drink shouldn't pick up a bottle in pursuit of health. There are some risks from light drinking, like an increased risk of some cancers, but that is also small.
Source: Addiction, March 1, 2013
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