back to article Get drinking! Abstinence just as bad for you as getting bladdered

Here’s a bit of good news. If you like alcohol, then keep drinking, and if you don’t, then you should start drinking – in moderation, of course, unless you want to increase your chances of developing dementia. A study published in the British Medical Journal this month shows that the risk of dementia increases for middle-aged …

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  1. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Is correlation causation....?

    Highly dubious study if you ask me - many factors and variables and how can they definitively state that alcohol is the only/key factor?

    1. AMBxx Silver badge
      Pint

      Re: Is correlation causation....?

      Interesting chart in The Times this morning. Units of alcohol went up to 70 per week. No wonder civil servants get so little done!

    2. Mark 85 Silver badge
      Pint

      Re: Is correlation causation....?

      So one shouldn't order a cask of wine just yet? Rats.....

      1. jake Silver badge

        Re: Is correlation causation....?

        Of course one should order a cask of wine! Get your priorities straight, man!

        1. CrazyOldCatMan Silver badge

          Re: Is correlation causation....?

          Of course one should order a cask of wine!

          Well - I have a nice cask of Amontillado down in the cellar - if you'd like to come down and take a taste.

          Ignore all the bricks piled up nearby - I'm doing some... renovations.

    3. Charlie Clark Silver badge
      Facepalm

      Re: Is correlation causation....?

      Highly dubious study if you ask me

      There is nothing dubious about the study which in its conclusion makes the same point as you do: yes, this is correlation as nearly all long-term studies are.

    4. aks Bronze badge

      Re: Is correlation causation....?

      Maybe if you read the study you'd find out how.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Is correlation causation....?

        sigh.... and what made you think I didn't?

        Did the study consider in detail the diets of the subjects? What about where they lived? (e.g. one person lives next to a busy dual carriageway with high levels of pollution, another lives outside of London next to fields?).

        The study acknowledges that they gathered information on smokers/non-smokers, but did not take account if they were non-smokers who had stopped.

        What about the type of job? One role may be more stressful than another. etc, etc

        Way too many variables. Like most diet-related studies.

    5. JoshOvki
      Stop

      Re: Is correlation causation....?

      > Highly dubious study if you ask me

      Shut up, shut up, shut up! The powers that be might hear you and try to put an end to drinking. Finally we have published evidence it is good for us

      1. CrazyOldCatMan Silver badge

        Re: Is correlation causation....?

        Finally we have published evidence it is good for us

        Indeed. I shot a swift glance at my wife when I saw that article (we've been married long enough that she knew what I meant).

        And then I opened a nice bottle of wine and drank some.

    6. tiggity Silver badge

      Re: Is correlation causation....?

      Plenty of evidence to show some people drink due to stress.

      Stress is widely regarded as linked to cardiovascular disease

      So they would need to work hard to accurately ascertain the stress levels of people and factor that in.things would need to be accounted for.

      A whole host of other variables to consider.

      You can have a good stab at factoring in various known issues (e.g. obesity, smoking, etc.).

      I would suggest reading the article to see (I CBA as read too many journal articles that are by necessity limited in detailing methodology in these areas as too long for publishers (explanations of what was done would be far longer than the article findings ) - but doubt you will find out much.

      But, who is really that bothered, we all die of something. I have seen horrendous slow, unpleasant drawn out, minimal quality of life, last months of people with cancer, dementia and similar "slow and nasty" diseases of old age & a quick coronary would have saved them a lot of suffering (they were cared for by relatives at home, I'm sure in hospital a greater chance someone might have done an (illegal but compassionate) intervention to terminally relieve their suffering.

      1. Charlie Clark Silver badge

        Re: Is correlation causation....?

        Plenty of evidence to show some people drink due to stress.

        Careful as this could be a conditioned response: it has certainly been demonstrated with smokers that the stress they generally experience is actually a withdrawal sympton. This quickly leads to them associating smoking with coping with stress and, hence, reinforcing the addiction.

        Alcohol, of course, does act differently, including as a muscle relaxant but I'm not convinced this really helps reduce stress over time.

      2. Aladdin Sane Silver badge

        Re: we all die of something

        Obligatory xkcd.

      3. ZippedyDooDah

        Re: Is correlation causation....?

        "But, who is really that bothered, we all die of something."

        I have also worked with people with dementia. To be precise it was in a care home which specialised in people with dementia.

        Every single employee in the place was of the opinion that if they ever got diagnosed with dementia, that they would somehow arrange to "off" themselves. It's an absolutely dreadful terminal disease. You can "live" with dementia for as long as ten years. Thirty out of thirty two clients were doubly incontinent. It takes a lot of wet wipes to clean up twenty four hours a day.

        So, "But, who is really that bothered, we all die of something." ?

        I am seriously bothered. I should drink more red wine and cut down on the beer. Dementially, errr, dementedly, or, something like that.

    7. Red Bren
      Pint

      Feckin' Puritans

      A talking head on the BBC was at pains to welcome "the link between excess alcohol consumption and dementia." When challenged about the surprising link between abstinance and dementia, he was very keen to stress "There could be many other factors at play"

      I refuse to listen to government health advice that insists that fun=unhealthy.

    8. Azerty

      Re: Is correlation causation....?

      Exactly. People who do not drink alcohol might avoid alcohol because of health issues explaining a lot of bad scores in statistics for non-drinkers.

    9. Joeyjoejojrshabado

      Re: Is correlation causation....?

      Does it state that alcohol is thr key factor? It examines the effect of alcohol, which is one factor

    10. HolySchmoley

      Re: Is correlation causation....?

      "Highly dubious study if you ask me - many factors and variables and how can they definitively state that alcohol is the only/key factor?"

      I heard it on R4 this morning and the scientist they interviewed (the researcher?) did not "definitively state that alcohol is the only/key factor". They gave a very balanced scientific anwser, as you might expect of a scientist.

      I think that the problem might be the conclusion you jumped to about what the study found.

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    " a chemical that has been linked to lowering inflammation and preventing blood clots."

    ... or aspirin?

    1. CrazyOldCatMan Silver badge

      " a chemical that has been linked to lowering inflammation and preventing blood clots."

      ... or aspirin?

      Fortunately, wine doesn't burn holes in my stomach lining or cause gut pain and bleeding.

      Unlike asprin.

      (I can tolerate nurofen, but only in combination with something like rabeprazole and taken with milk. Otherwise it's stomach pain and/or bleeding)

  3. frank ly Silver badge

    One little pill?

    "Previous studies showed that wine could help prevent strokes as it contains resveratrol, ..."

    Maybe we all need to take a resveratol tablet every day, along with the statins, low dose asprin, vitamin and mineral tablets, etc. Does alcohol-free wine have resveratol?

    1. Sampler
      Joke

      Alcohol Free Wine

      Isn't that just juice?

      1. jake Silver badge

        Re: Alcohol Free Wine

        No. Juice is drinkable in a pinch. Alcohol free wine, not so much.

      2. Teiwaz Silver badge

        Re: Alcohol Free Wine

        Isn't that just juice?

        Used to know a Free Presbyterian who insisted all references in the Bible to wine actually meant fruit juice.

        1. CrazyOldCatMan Silver badge

          Re: Alcohol Free Wine

          all references in the Bible to wine actually meant fruit juice

          "A land flowing with milk and honey, with corn and new wine" seems to sum up all the approrpriate food groups nicely..

    2. MacroRodent Silver badge

      Re: One little pill?

      I wonder if there is any difference in resveratrol content between wine and the original grape juice? Would making wine concentrate it? If so, maybe think of other ways concentrate it in juice.

      I am nowadays very suspicious of studies attributing health benefits to alcohol itself. It is a know carcinogen, and has ill effects on the liver. Even if it theoretically would have benefits to some part of the body, these would be offset by harm to other parts. (It also has a mighty industry behind it, rather like tobacco used to).

      1. jake Silver badge
        Pint

        Re: One little pill?

        Alcohol, like radiation, is bad for you in high doses, yes. However, in small doses both seem to have beneficial qualities. Many wise folks through the years have noted that moderation in all things is the key to a long and happy life. Looks like they were right.

        To answer your question, the various anti-oxidants are mainly found in the skins, stems, leaves and seeds of grapes, rather than in their pulp. Grape juice makers usually filter these things out as "contaminants" before bottling, as do most white wine makers prior to fermentation. However, red wine ferments on them, and thus gets the full benefit.

        For best health results, chase your dolma with red wine.

        1. elDog Silver badge

          "For best health results, chase your dolma with red wine."

          I read that as "For best health results, chase your dogma with red wine." Absolutely!

      2. Fading Silver badge

        Re: One little pill?

        Alcohol is a natural by-product of the digestion process. The human body has evolved methods of dealing with the toxicity of alcohol - such as alcohol dehydrogenase which is more prevalent in males versus females (https://sites.duke.edu/apep/module-1-gender-matters/content/content-gender-differences-in-alcohol-metabolism/) - hence the advice that men and women should have the same number of units is not based on biology.

        It is neither a mutagen nor a promoter and its links to cancer are normally only statistical correlations that frequently have other unhealthy life-style factors associated (heavy drinkers are not known for their healthy eating and exercise plans).

        I am very suspicious of all correlation studies as we all should be.

        1. Korev Silver badge
          Boffin

          Re: One little pill?

          It is neither a mutagen nor a promoter and its links to cancer are normally only statistical correlations that frequently have other unhealthy life-style factors associated (heavy drinkers are not known for their healthy eating and exercise plans).

          Alcohol itself isn't mutagenic, but the first step in its metabolism produces acetaldehyde which is.

          Moreover, tumours love energy and alcohol causes a rapid rise in sugars in the blood.

          1. Fading Silver badge

            Re: One little pill?

            Acetaldehyde has a half life of 90 seconds in the blood and it's association as a carcinogen (not a mutagen) is not a proven fact. Given as it naturally occurs in coffee, bread and ripe fruit and is widely present elsewhere in nature I take the IARC rating with a pinch of salt - (IARC class 1 in Chinese style salted fish).

            Living can cause cancer - things can go wrong whenever a cell needs to die (through necrosis or apoptosis) as such to fear anything that damages cells as carcinogenic (which the IARC ratings seem to do) is not helpful in any way.

          2. Charlie Clark Silver badge

            Re: One little pill?

            Moreover, tumours love energy and alcohol causes a rapid rise in sugars in the blood.

            I think you've walked straight into the correlation argument there. The counterfactual argument would be to starve people with cancer… except cancer seems to do this anyway.

        2. MacroRodent Silver badge

          Re: One little pill?

          Alcohol is a natural by-product of the digestion process. The human body has evolved methods of dealing with the toxicity of alcohol

          This is certainly true, and the reason we can drink alcoholic drinks without dying outright, but the digestion produces much smaller amounts of it than drinking. You cannot get drunk by eating non-alcoholic foods!

          Googling the matter, there seems to be a lot of different opinions about how carcinogenic (if at all) alcohol is. This also reminds me of the times the tobacco industry still tried to argue smoking is not so harmful, and promoted studies to confuse the issue.

          I do drink occasionally, but less than I used to, which was not so much even then (less that the British official recommended maximum, which to my eyes looks like borderline alcoholism... cultural difference, I guess).

          1. disgustedoftunbridgewells Silver badge

            Re: One little pill?

            You think that 14 units per week ( 7 pints ) is borderline alcoholism?

            7 pints is a livener.

            1. Aladdin Sane Silver badge

              Re: 7 pints is a livener.

              AKA breakfast.

          2. the Jim bloke Bronze badge

            Re: One little pill?

            Alcoholism = Drinking more than your doctor does

            1. skalamanga

              Re: One little pill?

              Drinking more than your doctor "says" he drinks

        3. onefang Silver badge
          WTF?

          Re: One little pill?

          "Alcohol is a natural by-product of the digestion process."

          Ah, that explains something my doctor once wrote that I have been scratching my head about ever since. In a general report about my health he noted that I don't drink alcohol (which is true), but right next to that said that I should try to drink less alcohol. I've been wondering ever since how to produce alcohol from my body to reach this "less alcohol" goal. Now I know. I guess some carefully timed throwing up is in order.

      3. Mark 85 Silver badge

        Re: One little pill?

        I am nowadays very suspicious of studies attributing health benefits to alcohol itself. It is a know carcinogen, and has ill effects on the liver. Even if it theoretically would have benefits to some part of the body, these would be offset by harm to other parts. (It also has a mighty industry behind it, rather like tobacco used to).

        Two quotes come to mind about this...

        1) "Moderation is for monks".

        2) "No one gets out of this life alive."

        A third one does also, but given the circumstances it was made under, it probably should apply: "Let's go, you want to live forever?:.

        So just maybe, one should just suck the marrow out of life and enjoy it while we can. Death is waiting and takes everyone eventually. So go young, some go old. But they still go. Don't make a bucket list, just do it.

    3. Wellyboot Silver badge
      Pint

      Re: One little pill?

      Years of missed enjoyment to merely move the percentages about a little bit?

      You can rattle with the pills, I'll stick with a glass of the Bo-Jolly, it's only being old and decrepit I'll be missing out on.

      -no wine icon! or head in sand for that matter :)

    4. tony2heads

      Re: One little pill?

      forget the pills- just eat berries and grapes, drink cocoa and red wine.

      Add a few peanuts into the mix for variety

    5. Red Bren
      Unhappy

      Re: One little pill?

      Why not just take it in a readily available form, i.e. A glass of wine?

      I swear if someone discovered a cheap plant extract that if taken daily, would prevent cancer, heart disease and dementia, but its one side effect was to make you high for thirty seconds, the government would refuse to legalise it.

    6. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: One little pill?

      I can attest to all of this, My heart was destroyed by a virus and I am on a waiting list for a transplant. In the meantime, I have a LVAD.

      I get labs drawn EVERY week so I can certainly answer this.

      1) Grape juice does not cut it (and it would have to be Red Grape Juice like from Welches)

      2) The Reservatrol Pill does not cut it - in fact, trying several different brands still did not improve my labs

      3) Adding 4 oz of Red Wine every other day improved my labs by over 500%. In fact, you would not know I had a heart condition as my labs are those of a super healthy person (but the fact I have INR shows I am taking meds)

      I am NOT overweight and was super healthy when the virus attacked my heart. I had NO plaque in the heart when they put in the LVAD. What DID improve the labs was that 4 oz of Red Wine every other day. Up until then, I rarely did drink.

      I still believe natural food is superior to so-called supplements whether it is Reservatrol, Vitamin C, Etc., as I get more than enough Vitamin C through the fruits and veggies I eat daily, Potassium from Bananas and boiled potatoes, etc.

      As an aside - I used to take Potassium supplements - when I stopped those, my Potassium was actually better with no eating habit changes.....

    7. CrazyOldCatMan Silver badge

      Re: One little pill?

      Maybe we all need to take a resveratol tablet every day

      There's pretty good evidence that the synergy effect (of which resveratol is part) is responsible. In the same way as isolating any purifying active chemicals from herbs often doesn't have the same effect as the herb itself.

      On the upside, at least with an extraced drug, you generally know what the dosage is - unlike herbs where the active compound amounts can vary widely depending on the growing conditions and age of the plant.

  4. Pascal Monett Silver badge
    Pint

    That's what I love about El Reg

    There's regularly some bit of good news why I can have that glass :)

    That is, until the day the science of our bodies has advanced to the point we actually know what we're talking about. Then the news will be final.

    But until then, bottoms up !

  5. Will Godfrey Silver badge
    Happy

    Telling us what we already knew

    Well, that's those of us with half a brain.

    ... Oh!

  6. jemmyww

    General health

    Hasn't it already been established by plenty of other studies that the benefit of alcohol goes away when you take the general health of participants into consideration? I.e. you are more likely to be abstinate if you're already sick or have another complicating factor.

    1. Dr Dan Holdsworth Silver badge

      Re: General health

      The "Sick quitter" hypothesis has been debunked; teetotallers who quit drinking but are damaged due to alcoholism have been removed from most studies.

      The correlation between moderate alcohol consumption and increased longevity still stands; sick quitters are not relevant.

      Resveratrol seems to have a life-extending effect, but it is a very weak one. More research needs doing on how it achieves this effect, to find something with a greater level of activity.

  7. -tim
    Pint

    Lies, damned lies, or statistics?

    Everyone knows that self reporting numbers tend to be off a bit. Perhaps a Reg hack can go out and do some real investigative reporting. I want them to be out there drinking with some of the people that self report and report just how right or wrong their self reporting is. The Whitehall surveys are where a great deal of the data about "normal drinking" comes from.

  8. Arthur the cat Silver badge
    WTF?

    What?

    the higher risk of dementia for people who abstained from alcohol was only apparent if they didn’t drink wine

    If you're drinking wine you're not abstaining from alcohol.

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