If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is. Yet, here we are again, believing that drinking promotes heart health or that a small amount of booze is better than exercise for those of a certain age. Unfortunately, new reports shows that these benefits, among others, might be skewed because the studies were funded by big alcohol companies.
According to HuffPost:
If you’ve ever seen headlines about how red wine is good for your heart, or how moderate alcohol use is linked to longer life, you’ve seen the alcohol industry’s influence on health science at work. And Americans seem to be swallowing that message. A 2015 Gallup poll found that 1 in 5 Americans believe “moderate” drinking is good for health, and that this was especially true among those who drink alcohol.
The New York Times recently reported that a 10-year $100 million study underway at the National Institutes of Health was largely funded by alcohol companies — the expectation being that the study would find and report that mild or moderate drinking wasn’t unhealthy.
Of course “moderate” is a highly subjective, non-scientific way of gauging what we’re eating and drinking, which is just the start of the problems associated with this type of study.
Alcohol executives were allowed to help pick the scientist that would carry out the study, as well as previewing the design of the study.
“The obvious conflict of interest is that the funder of this research stands to benefit when the research comes out with finding that encourage more people to use its products,” said David Jernigan, a professor at the Department of Health Law, Policy and Management at the Boston University School of Public Health told the Huffington Post. “It’s kind of the whole reason we have an independent science sector — to wall it off from conflicts of interest like this.”
(Sigh. It was a nice thought.)