Studies which suggest moderate drinking brings health benefits such as lowering the risk of heart disease are flawed, new research has argued.
Previous research that suggested drinking at a moderate level, of around one glass of wine per day, could boost overall health has been questioned by a new Canadian study.
Published in the Journal of Studies on Alcohol and Drugs, the paper reviewed 87 past studies and concluded past research appeared to be poorly designed, biased and pointed to positive effects that were unlikely to play out in reality.
It found there was no link between moderate alcohol intake and longevity, and particularly questioned the use of "abstainers" in many of the studies who were used as a comparison group with so-called "moderate" drinkers.
Abstainers had often given up drinking due to poor health, which meant that those who were classed in the studies as drinking occasionally, at fewer than one drink per week, lived the longest. Only 13 of the 87 studies did not have an issue with the selection of abstainers.
In the latest research, the authors accounted for study design issues such as abstainers, and found no basis for the claim that frequent but controlled drinking could bring health benefits.
"A fundamental question is, who are these moderate drinkers being compared against?" lead author Dr Tim Stockwell, director of the University of Victoria's Centre for Addictions Research in British Columbia, said.
"There's a general idea out there that alcohol is good for us, because that's what you hear reported all the time, but there are many reasons to be sceptical," Stockwell added.