We have often been told by experts that a glass of wine a day can be good for our health.
But now the ‘widespread notion’ that drinking moderately can reduce the risk of heart disease has been challenged by the World Heart Federation (WHF).
Wine contains antioxidants, which have health benefits, but the WHF says studies suggesting the drink can be good for us are ‘observational’ – meaning they fail to take into account important factors.
For example, moderate drinkers appearing healthier than non-drinkers may be because the latter have had an alcohol problem.
Monika Arora, of the WHF, said: ‘The portrayal of alcohol as necessary for a vibrant social life has diverted attention from the harms of alcohol use, as have the frequent claims that moderate drinking, such as a glass of red wine a day, can offer protection against cardiovascular disease.
The ‘widespread notion’ that drinking moderately can reduce the risk of heart disease has been challenged by the World Heart Federation (stock image)
‘These claims are at best misinformed and at worst an attempt by the alcohol industry to mislead the public about the danger of their product.’
Matt Lambert, of the Portman Group drinks industry trade body, said: ‘It is important not to exaggerate the risk of moderate drinking and unduly alarm responsible consumers who enjoy alcohol sensibly.’
Earlier this week, Professor Julia Sinclair, chair of the addictions faculty at the Royal College of Psychiatrists, warned millions of Britons are causing themselves ‘silent harm’ through drinking too much.
People drink at home, failing to keep track of how much they are consuming, and encourage each other to have more, she said, adding: ‘You get what I, as a psychiatrist, would call collusion.
‘It’s ‘Should we open another bottle?’
‘Yeah, let’s open another bottle.’
Many people consider themselves to indulge only moderately in alcohol and the NHS says people who have less than 14 units a week are ‘low-risk’ drinkers.
That is the equivalent of 10 small glasses of low-strength wine or six pints of average-strength beer.
However there is no safe level of drinking, according to the World Heart Federation, which cites the figure of more than 2.4 million people who died worldwide because of alcohol in 2019.
There is no safe level of drinking, according to the WHF, which cites the figure of more than 2.4 million people who died worldwide because of alcohol in 2019 (stock image)
These alcohol-related fatalities made up almost one in 20 deaths globally, and 12.5 per cent of those among men aged 15 to 49.
The organisation, which is a non-governmental organisation (NGO) working with the World Health Organisation (WHO), said alcohol is a ‘psychoactive and harmful substance that can cause significant damage to the human body’.
Health conditions linked to drinking include cardiovascular disease, cancer, and digestive diseases, on top of the risk of people on injuring themselves while inebriated.
Some people who enjoy an occasional tipple have pushed back against ‘nanny state’ warnings such as that from previous Chief Medical Officer, Dame Sally Davies, who in 2016 told the Commons science and technology committee that women should ‘do as I do’ and think about the risks of breast cancer every time they reach for a glass of wine.
Later that year she admitted she had chosen her words poorly.
But the WHF, in its briefing, says: ‘The evidence is clear: any level of alcohol consumption can lead to loss of healthy life.
‘Studies have shown that even small amounts of alcohol can increase a person’s risk of cardiovascular disease, including coronary disease, stroke, heart failure, hypertensive heart disease, cardiomyopathy (heart muscle disease), atrial fibrillation (irregular heartbeat), and aneurysm.
‘Studies that claim otherwise are based on purely observational research, which fails to account for other factors, such as pre-existing conditions and a history of alcoholism in those considered to be ‘abstinent’.
‘To date, no reliable correlation has been found between moderate alcohol consumption and a lower risk of heart disease.’
The organisation says bans on alcohol advertising and strengthened restrictions on alcohol availability are among the interventions which could stop people drinking too much.
Source: | This article originally belongs to Dailymail.co.uk