If I had a dollar for every time I saw an article come out spewing the supposed benefits of alcohol… Well, let’s just say I could join the FIRE people (you know, those dedicated to having financial independence and retiring early) and spend the rest of my days sipping Topo Chico while lying on some beach on the Pacific coast of Mexico. You know what I am talking about: Those articles that say drinking is now safe for pregnant women (in moderation) or that wine and cheese are good for your waistline or that local beer is good for your bank account. Or whatever.
It seems as if every week there’s some article or “study” that comes out extolling alcohol, and this week is no different. Case in point: A new study, published in the journal Gastroenterology, that is published on BBC’s website under the headline “Why red wine could be good for your gut – in moderation.”
For one thing, the publication hedged their bets by writing “could” in the headline — a clear indication that neither they nor the study’s authors are actually sure about red wine’s positive impact on the gut. They kept the article safe by telling readers that this could be true, knowing that most will not actually read the article and get to the part where researcher Dr. Caroline Le Roy said, “This is an observational study so we cannot prove that the effect we see is caused by red wine.”
At the end of the day, an observational study does not mean that red wine is actually good for your gut at all.
She goes on to say that you do not need to drink every day and that we still don’t know all that much about gut bacteria, so it’s a complicated issue and basically this study could turn out to be a crock of SHIT (pardon my language) since, at the end of the day, an observational study does not mean that red wine is actually good for your gut— at all. In fact, to get a bit more technical, studies like this often can only prove correlation (that two things might be related) and not causation (that one thing makes the other thing possible). So, at the end of the day, that headline is bullshit.
But you know what’s really bullshit?
The fact that articles like this and “studies” like this are so very common. To me, at the end of the day, it feels like a society that is desperate to justify their dependence on a dangerous, life-threatening drug. And yes, I’m talking about alcohol — the drug that kills 88,000 people in the U.S. and more than 3 million people worldwide every year (according to the CDC and WHO, respectively).
To me, at the end of the day, it feels like a society that is desperate to justify their dependence on a dangerous, life-threatening drug.
If we were actually all okay with our drinking habits, then would we really need all of these studies that tell us why drinking is actually “okay”? Would we need articles on how to not get too drunk at happy hour or that wine is good for your heart? Which, in case you’re keeping track, is a catch-22 since the CDC also reports that one of the long-term effects of excessive alcohol use is high blood pressure, heart disease, stroke, liver disease, and digestive problems. And since “excessive” use is anything more than seven drinks for women or fourteen drinks for men per week and most people vastly underestimate how much they drink, then you can surely bet that most people fall in the excessive category without even knowing it (90%, in fact, according to Mayo Clinic).
But what bothers me the most is all of these studies that try to justify drinking alcohol.
Mind you, last year, a very lengthy study published in the peer-reviewed medical journal The Lancelet concluded that, if you want to minimize the health outcomes related to alcohol, the only safe number is “zero standard drinks per week.”
So all of these studies that proclaim the health benefits of alcohol? Well, yeah, I call bullshit. When one of the leading medical publications says the only safe amount of alcoholic drinks you can have is ZERO, then maybe you should listen.
So all of these studies that proclaim the health benefits of alcohol? Well, yeah, I call bullshit.
I really look forward to the day when society has moved on enough to the point that alcohol, like smoking, is relegated to the past and recognized for the dangerous act that it is. Sure, people still smoke (in fact, smoking is still killing 480,000 Americans yearly, according to the CDC) but they do so now fully knowing the perils that they are putting themselves and their families into. That’s still not the case for alcohol, and it won’t be the case so long as we continue to have these silly studies come out telling us that alcohol maybe kinda sorta might be good for this or that. It’s not. End of story.
Thankfully, though, the sober curious movement is growing. And sobriety isn’t a trend but actually a movement of people who are finally recognizing the true harms of alcohol. It may still take a while for my dream of a mostly alcohol-free world to happen but, in the meantime, maybe I’ll start a savings jar and put $1 into it every time one of these eye-rolling, pro-alcohol articles comes out. Who knows? Maybe I’ll end up retiring early after all.