Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Beer is Better Than Wine at Preventing Heart Disease

Finally proof that beer is better for you than wine! This little blurb in Addiction (May 2010) caught my eye, "beer was found to have a significant protective relationship overall.." Apparently when compared to wine and spirits, beer drinkers had a lower risk of dying of ischemic heart disease (IHD). IHD is a fancy word for heart attack. These results were found using US public health data between 1950 and 2002. The rates of IHD, cirrhosis (liver disease), cigarette sales and total alcohol sales were combined and used to determine risk of dying from IHD. This best sums up the article, "wet region has the only significant protective effect of beer consumption on IHD mortality, with a 6.3% per liter estimated effect."

Other fun findings:
1. Spirit consumption has been dropping since WWI and baby boomers drink more beer.
2. New England states have similar drinking patterns to southern Europe.
3. Math class is tough.
4. A 'sick quitter' can really ruin statistical analysis of drinking habits. These individuals stop drinking because of health issues. They are then labeled as abstainers but have more health issues which can mess up the numbers.
5. I should read more sci-fi.

WARNING: if you do not want your head to hurt stop reading now.

I am not a dumb person; HTF did they come up with these numbers? After 3-4 readings of this article, with highlighter, here is what I can figure out. Total alcohol sales were obtained from all US states and put through a fancy mathematical formula to determine per capita consumption. Then they combed the [US] National Center for Health Statistics Compressed Mortality files for rates of IHD; I'm not joking this information does exist. Rates of cirrhosis were obtained to determine how many heavy drinkers there were. Can't forget cigarette sales, a major risk factor for IHD. Then voila! In population area(s) were people drink, beer seems to have a greater protective effect against IHD than spirits and wine. Actually, wine has a slight, but not significant, protective effect and spirits were just bad for you.

But why would someone do all this research?
1. To get published. DONE
2. Thoroughly confuse smarty-pants beer blogger. PWNED
3. Confirm alcohol consumption health impact as an overall population when compared to self reported drinking habits. People are known to lie when asked about alcohol consumption.
4. Give governments more reason to impose policies to reduce alcohol consumption.

So there you go: scientific proof that (moderate) beer consumption is for your health. Better for you than wine and much better than spirits.

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