A new 6 year study on the health effects of daily alcohol consumption will begin soon. It is an effort to definitively answer the question about drinking alcohol that has been asked forever; does a drink a day keep the doctor away?

In other words this National Institutes of Health $100 million clinical study will try to suss out whether alcohol does indeed prevent heart attacks, strokes or even death. But the controversy has begun even before the clinical trial has.

$67.7 million of the total price tag for the study has been pledged by none other than five of the largest alcoholic beverage manufacturers in the world. If that doesn't sound somewhat questionable, couple that with the fact that many of the researchers and institutions involved (like Harvard for instance) have had cozy relationships with the alcoholic beverage biz.

The project plans to recruit 8,000 volunteers who are 50 or older, at 16 locations around the globe. These participants will then be divided arbitrarily into two groups, one which must abstain from any alcohol consumption (this one is definitely not for me) and the other, which will drink one alcoholic beverage of their choice everyday for six years.

It is hoped that the research gathered between these two groups can once and for all determine what affect, if any, alcohol has on cardiac health.

But suppose it does answer that question. What about new studies linking even moderate drinking to an increase in the incidence of breast cancer in women and cognitive decline in both genders? As usual the answers we seek may not be what we really wanted in the first place or put more bluntly; be careful what you ask for.

Sources: Food & Wine and The New York Times


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