Is It Better to Drink a Little Alcohol than None at All?

Is It Better to Drink a Little Alcohol than None at All?
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Even if alcohol causes cancer and there is no “French paradox,” what about the famous J-shaped curve, where yes, excessive drinking is bad, but light drinkers appear to actually have lower mortality than abstainers?

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Below is an approximation of this video’s audio content. To see any graphs, charts, graphics, images, and quotes to which Dr. Greger may be referring, watch the above video.

“Why do we not see the corporate interests of the alcohol industry as clearly as we see those of the tobacco industry?” Well, the alcohol industry has “waged a sophisticated and successful campaign [over the last few decades] undermin[ing] perceptions of the extent of alcohol-related harms to health by [framing the argument as] a balance of benefits and harms.” Yes, alcohol may be an “intoxicating carcinogen,” increasing cancer risk, but what about reducing heart disease risk? “[P]olicymakers hesitate to introduce effective alcohol policies, or even to support the addition of warning labels…, for fear they might undermine or contradict [any] possible health benefits of alcohol use.”

After all, alcohol consumption clearly raises HDL, the supposed “good” cholesterol, But, sadly, as I already explored, HDL is no longer considered protective, based in part on so-called Mendelian randomization studies, where having a high HDL your whole life doesn’t appear to help, whereas a lifelong reduction of bad cholesterol, LDL, just thanks to luck-of-the-draw genetics, does indeed decrease heart disease risk.

So, the boost in HDL from alcohol may not matter. And, if you look at subclinical markers of atherosclerosis, like the thickening of the wall of your carotid arteries in your neck, those that abstain from alcohol completely seem to be at the lowest risk. And, the same with coronary calcium scores, where, in general, the lower the alcohol consumption, the lower the risk. And, alcohol bumps our blood pressure up a bit as well, which would be expected to raise, not lower, our cardiac risk. So, where did we get this idea that alcohol was good for us? From the famous J curve.

Check it out. If you follow large populations of people over time, in general, the more people drink, the higher their risk of dying prematurely. But the lowest risk—those who tend to live the longest—are not those who drink zero, the abstainers, but those who drink moderately, like one drink a day.

That’s why you get some folks recommending that “physicians should counsel lifelong nondrinkers” to take up the habit. Sure, there are statin drugs, but “alcoholic beverages [don’t] require a prescription, are far cheaper, and certainly more enjoyable.”

Is moderate drinking really protective? Or, is there just something about people who abstain completely from alcohol that puts them in a higher risk category? The reason we suspect something fishy is going on is that abstainers seem to be at higher risk of a whole swath of diseases including, ironically, liver cirrhosis. Compared to lifelong abstainers—those who have never touched the stuff—men and women drinking a little appear to have less liver cirrhosis. Wait—what? How could a little drinking be linked to lower rates of liver cirrhosis? Well, let’s think about it. What makes more sense, that drinking leads to less liver cirrhosis, or liver cirrhosis leads to less drinking? In other words, reverse causation: the so-called “sick quitter effect.”

If you look at studies of smokers, sometimes you see higher mortality rates among those who quit smoking, compared to those that continue smoking. Why? Because the reason they quit smoking is because they got sick. So, of course, sick people die more often than less sick people. That’s why when you classify someone as a non-smoker in a study, you have to make sure they’re a “lifelong nonsmoker” and not just a non-smoker…since last Tuesday. Yet, unbelievably, that’s not what they do in most alcohol studies, where instead they misclassify former drinkers as if they were lifelong abstainers. And, look, “individuals with poorer health are more likely to cut down or stop drinking completely,” thereby making current drinkers “‘look good’ [in] comparison” to those who drink zero, because some of the “abstainers” are just abstaining because they got sick and stopped.

Okay. So, what if you went back to all those studies and corrected the misclassifications, separated out the former drinkers from the lifelong abstainers? We didn’t know… until now.

They, indeed, found “drinker misclassification errors” all too common, plaguing three quarters of the studies, and when they controlled for that, the J-shaped curve disappeared. The death versus alcohol relationship became more consistent with a straight line, “linear dose response,” meaning more alcohol, more death: no protection at low levels of consumption.

So: “No [apparent] benefit of light to moderate drinking” after all, when you use better comparison groups. “Although these results are not what the majority of drinking adults may desire to believe,” the public deserves to hear and to read in more complete and balanced detail the ever-growing evidence that drinking alcohol is very unlikely to improve their health…”

Please consider volunteering to help out on the site.

Image credit: Joel Herzog via Unsplash. Image has been modified.

Motion graphics by Avocado Video.

Below is an approximation of this video’s audio content. To see any graphs, charts, graphics, images, and quotes to which Dr. Greger may be referring, watch the above video.

“Why do we not see the corporate interests of the alcohol industry as clearly as we see those of the tobacco industry?” Well, the alcohol industry has “waged a sophisticated and successful campaign [over the last few decades] undermin[ing] perceptions of the extent of alcohol-related harms to health by [framing the argument as] a balance of benefits and harms.” Yes, alcohol may be an “intoxicating carcinogen,” increasing cancer risk, but what about reducing heart disease risk? “[P]olicymakers hesitate to introduce effective alcohol policies, or even to support the addition of warning labels…, for fear they might undermine or contradict [any] possible health benefits of alcohol use.”

After all, alcohol consumption clearly raises HDL, the supposed “good” cholesterol, But, sadly, as I already explored, HDL is no longer considered protective, based in part on so-called Mendelian randomization studies, where having a high HDL your whole life doesn’t appear to help, whereas a lifelong reduction of bad cholesterol, LDL, just thanks to luck-of-the-draw genetics, does indeed decrease heart disease risk.

So, the boost in HDL from alcohol may not matter. And, if you look at subclinical markers of atherosclerosis, like the thickening of the wall of your carotid arteries in your neck, those that abstain from alcohol completely seem to be at the lowest risk. And, the same with coronary calcium scores, where, in general, the lower the alcohol consumption, the lower the risk. And, alcohol bumps our blood pressure up a bit as well, which would be expected to raise, not lower, our cardiac risk. So, where did we get this idea that alcohol was good for us? From the famous J curve.

Check it out. If you follow large populations of people over time, in general, the more people drink, the higher their risk of dying prematurely. But the lowest risk—those who tend to live the longest—are not those who drink zero, the abstainers, but those who drink moderately, like one drink a day.

That’s why you get some folks recommending that “physicians should counsel lifelong nondrinkers” to take up the habit. Sure, there are statin drugs, but “alcoholic beverages [don’t] require a prescription, are far cheaper, and certainly more enjoyable.”

Is moderate drinking really protective? Or, is there just something about people who abstain completely from alcohol that puts them in a higher risk category? The reason we suspect something fishy is going on is that abstainers seem to be at higher risk of a whole swath of diseases including, ironically, liver cirrhosis. Compared to lifelong abstainers—those who have never touched the stuff—men and women drinking a little appear to have less liver cirrhosis. Wait—what? How could a little drinking be linked to lower rates of liver cirrhosis? Well, let’s think about it. What makes more sense, that drinking leads to less liver cirrhosis, or liver cirrhosis leads to less drinking? In other words, reverse causation: the so-called “sick quitter effect.”

If you look at studies of smokers, sometimes you see higher mortality rates among those who quit smoking, compared to those that continue smoking. Why? Because the reason they quit smoking is because they got sick. So, of course, sick people die more often than less sick people. That’s why when you classify someone as a non-smoker in a study, you have to make sure they’re a “lifelong nonsmoker” and not just a non-smoker…since last Tuesday. Yet, unbelievably, that’s not what they do in most alcohol studies, where instead they misclassify former drinkers as if they were lifelong abstainers. And, look, “individuals with poorer health are more likely to cut down or stop drinking completely,” thereby making current drinkers “‘look good’ [in] comparison” to those who drink zero, because some of the “abstainers” are just abstaining because they got sick and stopped.

Okay. So, what if you went back to all those studies and corrected the misclassifications, separated out the former drinkers from the lifelong abstainers? We didn’t know… until now.

They, indeed, found “drinker misclassification errors” all too common, plaguing three quarters of the studies, and when they controlled for that, the J-shaped curve disappeared. The death versus alcohol relationship became more consistent with a straight line, “linear dose response,” meaning more alcohol, more death: no protection at low levels of consumption.

So: “No [apparent] benefit of light to moderate drinking” after all, when you use better comparison groups. “Although these results are not what the majority of drinking adults may desire to believe,” the public deserves to hear and to read in more complete and balanced detail the ever-growing evidence that drinking alcohol is very unlikely to improve their health…”

Please consider volunteering to help out on the site.

Image credit: Joel Herzog via Unsplash. Image has been modified.

Motion graphics by Avocado Video.

Doctor's Note

Wait, HDL isn’t “good” cholesterol anymore? Check out my ashtray and gym shoes analogies in reference to causal risk factors in my Coconut Oil & the Boost in HDL “Good” Cholesterol video.

How much cancer does alcohol really cause, though? You might have missed the first video of this series: Can Alcohol Cause Cancer?

And what about resveratrol and the French paradox? See The Best Source of Resveratrol and What Explains the French Paradox?

Stay tuned for the finale: Do Any Benefits of Alcohol Outweigh the Risks?

If you haven’t yet, you can subscribe to my videos for free by clicking here.

174 responses to “Is It Better to Drink a Little Alcohol than None at All?

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    1. Thanks for finding the evidence behind what I intuitively knew all along. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out that the vast majority of people who don’t drink at all are alcoholics!

      1. ab30, Dr. Greger has another video on here showing some arterial benefits from red wine vinegar used in salad dressing. Seems to me that yes, alcohol is a toxin (obviously) but in vinegar and extracts and such, it’s in such tiny amounts that it would hardly make a difference. And to worry to that amount would seem scrupulous to me and from my personal experiences speaking solely for myself, I find that amount of worry to be more harmful than not being what might be perceived as “perfect.”

    1. Great link.

      I subscribe to the notion that tiny-teensie amounts of alcohol act as a solvent that increases absorption. But I’m talking like a few drops in a water glass equivalent amount in a liquid.

  1. Again, as someone who has access to research and a vested interest, at least in beer, I offer these studies as counters to this.

    Again, if you don’t want to drink don’t. I’m not here to tell you what to do, and drinking a case of beer a day is certainly bad. So please don’t argue with me on this.

    If you can’t get the papers, I can send them to you (if I can figure a way to do it).

    Karatzi, K., Ph.D, Rontoyanni, V. G., Ph.D, Protogerou, A. D., M.D, Georgoulia, A., M.Sc, Xenos, K., M.Sc, Chrysou, J., B.Sc, . . . Sidossis, L. S., Ph.D. (2013). Acute effects of beer on endothelial function and hemodynamics: A single-blind, crossover study in healthy volunteers.Nutrition, 29(9), 1122-1126. 10.1016/j.nut.2013.02.016

    (taking out alcohol, admittedly, on mice though)
    Martinez, N., Urpi-Sarda, M., Martinez-Gonzalez, M. A., Andres-Lacueva, C., & Mitjavila, M. T. (2011). Dealcoholised beers reduce atherosclerosis and expression of adhesion molecules in apoE-deficient mice. British Journal of Nutrition, 105(5), 721-730. 10.1017/S0007114510004289

    Romeo, J., Wärnberg, J., Nova, E., Díaz, L. E., Gómez-Martinez, S., & Marcos, A. (2007). Moderate alcohol consumption and the immune system: A review. British Journal of Nutrition, 98(S1), S111-S115. 10.1017/S0007114507838049

    There are more, and these have nothing to do with the “J” curve.

    1. If I were in your shoes, I’m not sure I would change that practice.

      Reason being that I believe it is better to offer an occasional challenge to our body so it can respond to the challenge and become stronger. That weekly glass of wine may be the least harmful way to challenge the self to trigger a defensive response to the alcohol insult.

      I base my theory on something I read once about R-Lipoic Acid.

      The researchers couldn’t explain why taking that was beneficial to our mitochondria, but offered that the benefit may be derived from the RLA being an insult to the mitochondria and thus causing the mitochondria to react defensively, making it stronger.

      1. Lonie, can you find that study? I ask, because when I Googled Metabolic insult, I got titles like:

        Reye syndrome: a metabolic response to an acute mitochondrial insult?

        The Awakening of an Advanced Malignant Cancer: An Insult to the Mitochondrial Genome

        Mitochondrial Insult in a Parkinson’s like symptoms model

        Mitochondrial Insult and Revenge in Tumorigenesis

        “Hyperglycemic Memory”: Permanent Cellular Damage in a Transient Insult – A Mitochondrial

        1. Deb, your google search should have read R-Lipoic Acid + mitochondria.

          My original link has long since been lost on one or another of my senescent cell CPUs in crashed computers. ‘-)

          But a few searches down did give a good explanation of the advantage of R-LA over S-LA or even A-LA due to the chirality of the molecules being more akin to naturally produced (in very small amounts) LA.

          Here is the meat of the article:

          In time researchers had access to pure samples of the natural, biological version, (R)-ALA. They quickly learned that while the body can utilize both forms of ALA, there is a strong preference for the natural, more biologically active (R) form. For example, researchers in Germany reported that, unlike the natural form, (S)-ALA does not improve ATP synthesis in isolated cells. Furthermore, the R-form increased membrane fluidity and transport, while the S-form tended to decrease fluidity.
          Conclusion

          R-lipoic acid is the biologically active form of the key ‘mitochondrial antioxidant,’ alpha lipoic acid. R-lipoic acid is directly involved in cellular metabolism and is a vital component of the intracellular antioxidant cycle, able to scavenge a variety of free radicals and reactive oxygen species (ROS) while recycling vitamins C, E and glutathione. R-lipoic readily crosses the blood brain barrier and has been shown effective for elevating intracellular glutathione levels. R-LA helps regulate neuronal calcium homeostasis, regulates pro-inflammatory cytokines, and alters the expression of ‘toxic genes.’ R-lipoic acid has been used to treat diabetes and has been recommended as a “neuroprotective agent.” Because R-lipoic is the naturally occurring form found in mitochondrial complexes it offers substantially greater antioxidant and neuroprotective benefits at substantially lower doses than the synthetic forms of lipoic acid currently available.

          The link to the piece is found in Nutrition Review, a newsletter that gets the latest discovery information out to the public in easily understood form:

          https://nutritionreview.org/2013/04/rlipoic-acid/

          1. Thanks Lonie

            That link is certainly interesting. However, like the Life Extension Foundation, which also produces some interesting well-rearched articles, Nutrition Review is run by somebody who makes the bulk of his income from selling supplements and/or functional food/drinks.

            I suspect therefore that both mostly only publish information favouring the use of supplements. Are you confident that you are getting the full warts-and-all description of what the totality of the science shows?

            1. Hi Tom,

              This was the first time I’ve been to that website and came upon it to just provide a link for Deb to read and get an idea of what I’ve come to believe. And because this site does square with what I’ve already accepted as the benefits of R Lipoic Acid, I am confident in their reporting of the science.

              As far as a site that accepts advertising being trustworthy, I do take that into consideration. But I also realize that without that income the site might not even exist. The good news is such a site will offer more information about a product… that is, they will give a good long account of any benefits.

              Some will even list a few negatives knowing that doing that makes their positive information more acceptable. Sort of like a pharmaceutical company racing through the side effects as required by law, but learning that people will skip over those side effects anyway and will still ask their doctor to prescribe the dangerous medicine. Someday, populations will become smarter, I think (hope.)

              But to answer your question, I do not accept what an advertising site claims without verification, but they sometimes do me a service of alerting me to new research to follow up on.

              1. Thanks Lonie.

                Actually, I wasn’t so much referring to the fact that the site accepts advertising but to the fact that the owner has founded or co-founded (and presumably still part owns) a couple of supplement producing and/or distrbuting companies.

                Also, since Nutrition Review is specifically “a free online resource covering issues related to the therapeutic benefits of nutritional supplements and their potential role in preventing illness, enhancing health, improving quality of life and extending lifespan.”, this does seem to suggest that it is not interested in discussing possible downsides to these supplements.
                https://nutritionreview.org/about/

                1. O.k., shoot the messenger… I’m not a subscriber so I don’t care. But allow them to deliver the message before you kill them because I have determined they are on message.

                  Tom, I’m not saying to trust everything these health news sites say. My motto is trust but verify. If one needs to hear or debate a news item, believe me, there are plenty of naysayers to be found (no offense ‘-)

                  But to your point of advertising. Personally I prefer to visit a site run by capitalists than one run by socialists. Reason being the socialists are more prone to have an agenda while the capitalists are more open to new discoveries and know that if they don’t report accurately, the Internet will explode and they will lose readership.

                  Sure it would be nice if a kind billionaire brings us the latest news on the health front but usually they run a magazine or something that is based on their point of view.

                  Personally I’m o.k. with the business minded newser ’cause they know if they get it wrong, their business will suffer. That’s a powerful incentive to get it right.

          2. Lonie, my concern is still in the reality that many of the antioxidant supplements have been proven to kill people faster. I haven’t seen a study for (R)-ALA and mortality, but the fact that it is the concept of “supplementing with antioxidants” that has increased mortality, I just wonder if I would risk it, when food doesn’t have the same risk.

            I honestly have gotten rid of most of my supplements. They don’t even have the product too often and might kill me and cost so much and are not as effective as food and often are synthetic. The list of reasons not to take them goes on and on and I started out with those types of links and buying hundreds of supplements, but I am down to superfoods and figuring out how to get them in.

            1. You see, Lonie, I am not worried about people not getting enough antioxidants if they are eating WFPB.

              I AM worried about people taking supplements, which might kill them faster.

              That is the message I want people to hear before they get conned into spending all their money on supplements.

              1. I genuinely want to shout to my friends:

                ANTIOXIDANT SUPPLEMENTS KILL PEOPLE FASTER.

                And I do know that there might be a few which don’t, but it is like eating that poisonous fish which sometimes kills people.

                Why risk it?

                Do you have a health problem in the first place? Without that, I don’t understand why to do it at all?

                NT Factor is my Mitochondrial supplement, which I used, because they had studies of helping Mitochondria and I did it, because of brain problems and it seems to have helped, but stopped helping after the first several months and I am not taking it now. Now, I am eating superfoods and that is what is in it.

                1. But if you go to NT Factors research page, they aren’t talking about increasing insults to Mitochondria. They are talking about bringing the Mitochondria of a 70 year old and having it become more like the Mitochondria of a 29 year old and that sounded like a cool thing to try, but someone put a review calling it a scam saying, “Just eat the foods in the ingredients” and that is what took me a long time to do.

                  I put the insults to Mitochondria theory of DISEASE to say, be careful at trying to figure out how to cause insults to your Mitochondria.

                  It might make it stronger, it might cause things like Cancer and Parkinson’s and how are you, a lay person, going to figure out how many insults your Mitochondria can take before it is something like Cancer you end up with?

                  I understand that you are pointing to real studies, but so am I and there is a Mitochondrial insult theory to disease and yours is “no, it makes them stronger” and I am not sure which smart guy to listen to and that is why I look for human studies.

                2. I genuinely want to shout to my friends:

                  ANTIOXIDANT SUPPLEMENTS KILL PEOPLE FASTER.

                  And I WANT TO SHOUT YOU DOWN!!!!! SUPPLEMENTS HELP US TO GIVE THE BODY THE MAXIMUM AMOUNT OF NUTRIENTS FOR A BODY TO REMAIN HEALTHY OR RESTORE HEALTH WHEN IT HAS FALLEN AND CAN’T GET UP!!!

                  Please, just stop proselytizing against something that can be life-giving for others just because you don’t get it.

                  1. Deb, I respect your choice to not supplement your diet. But you are one in x billion, unless you have a twin. What is acceptable for you doesn’t mean it is what is optimal for anyone else.

                    Saying supplements kill is a charged phrase that may cause someone to stop taking something that is working for them. In that case, lack of supplements kills. I don’t think you want to be responsible for that.

                    1. Lonie, STUDIES say that supplements kill.

                      I am not the one who ran the studies, did you read the studies or are you just not believing them?

                    2. Lonie, I know that we are both passionate about our positions and, no, I don’t want to shut you down.

                      I just feel like there have been multiple studies that supplements cause people to die faster that it is something, people need to hear.

                  2. I do want to apologize to you for using all-caps for emphasis.

                    Seeing you do it, I can see that it genuinely appears aggressive.

                    I don’t want to disrespect Dr Greger’s comment etiquette rules. He is hosting this web-site and I know he has placed boundaries to acceptable behaviors and I don’t want to cross those.

                    You and I genuinely passionately disagree about wanting to hear dangers of things.

                    This web site, to me, is about finding out the risk and benefit studies of things to make proper decisions and I don’t see finding out the dangers of things as being a dangerous process.

          3. Perhaps we can coin a new phrase to replace “meat” with “grain.”
            e.g.
            “Here’s the grain of the article.”
            “Get to the grain of the argument.”
            “The grain of the matter.”
            “Grain and potatoes.”

          1. Hi S,

            No, it is based partially on something I read a number of years ago. At that time they didn’t know how the R-LA worked its magic and just supposed it was the tweak to the mitochondria that caused the defensive action causing the mitochondria to be stronger.

            Kind of goes along with other things I’ve read saying that bones get stronger from running because we cause small mini fractures that when they heal cause the strengthening.

            Probably where that old saying came from: “That which doesn’t kill us makes us stronger.”

            This was just a case where my being exposed to these things caused me to theorize my once-a-week alcohol tweaking in KathySpeck’s case might be beneficial.

            I’m sure many Avante Garde mothers know that exposing their children to mud and or forest conditions will make their children’s immune systems much stronger and will cause less sickness as they grow older.

            And while I can’t produce the original link to the R-LA research, it is the thing that caused me to switch from alpha Lipoic Acid to natural chirality R-LA.

  2. Are there any alcohol studies involving only German beer drinkers? I’ve heard of German immigrants to the U.S. who serve beer at the table to young and old alike.

    Never heard of long-lived (blue zone) Germans, but am curious if alcohol plays a role in their mortality?

      1. This is consistent with all the other studies showing benefits from light to moderate consumption of alcohol.

        Presumably however it also shares the weakesses of those other observational studies which are discussed in this latest video by Dr G.

  3. Beer has recently been red-flagged, due to the barley in it (sorry, don’t have the link). I agreed with the study; it confirmed the effects I have observed on me: no more beer for me, and I don’t miss it a bit.
    Also, I personally quit drinking anything that’s been aged in pre-charred wooden barrels: nice color, tangy spicy taste, these can’t fool me any more – too much cancer risk.
    Thanks, Doc… I wish you give us the details about beers, to warn many of us, who still drink it.

        1. In the UK, where I came from, barley wine (actually a type of strong ale) was quite popular as a Winter warmer type of beer. It was also occasionally drunk in place of dessert wine at the end of a dinner. It’s quite sweet and tasty if I recall correctly. I now split my time between Australia and haven’t seen it for years but I understand that it is enjoying a renaissance in the UK with beer afficionados.

          But of course barley is widely used in brewing ordinary.beer.

          And Deb’s article wasn’t about farming – it was about a source material widely used in brewing.beer and ale.

    1. In general yes. Of course, if you drink a case of beer a day vs one shot, probably not. But fermented beverages still have plant by products where distilled are basically alcohol.

      I’ll try to find a study, but I can’t seem to find it on my drive here.

  4. I do understand that low consumption drinkers don’t have a benefit. But is there a real disadvantage to the people drinking no alcohol? Can someone provide the real statistics coming from the mentioned study? That would be great thanks

    1. Odilo, no there isn’t a disadvantage for the nondrinkers.

      That J curve only happened, because they put people who had quit drinking in the “nondrinker” category.

      He said that when they went back and corrected for that, the “J” curve disappeared and nondrinkers were back to having the advantage.

    2. There is not a disadvantage to drinking no alcohol. And drinking “low volume” of alcohol does not improve risk of death. What they did was separate former drinkers from never drinkers and make them two categories. They found that the former drinkers had higher mortality, and that low volume drinkers did not have improved mortality.

      Here is the link to the full study: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4803651/pdf/jsad.2016.77.185.pdf

      Here is the summary of the statistics:
      Results: Without adjustment, meta-analysis of all 87 included studies replicated the classic J-shaped curve, with low-volume drinkers (1.3–24.9 g ethanol per day) having reduced mortality risk (RR = 0.86, 95% CI [0.83, 0.90]). Occasional drinkers (<1.3 g per day) had similar mortality risk (RR = 0.84, 95% CI [0.79, 0.89]), and former drinkers had elevated risk (RR = 1.22, 95% CI [1.14, 1.31]). After adjustment for abstainer biases and quality-related study characteristics, no significant reduction in mortality risk was observed for low-volume drinkers (RR = 0.97, 95% CI [0.88, 1.07]). Analyses of higher-quality bias-free studies also failed to find reduced mortality risk for low-volume alcohol drinkers. Risk estimates for occasional drinkers were similar to those for low- and medium-volume drinkers.

      -Dr Anderson, Health Support Volunteer

  5. What about a placebo effect? Let’s say I have a beer or 2 in the evenings, believing that the effect of calming and relaxing me has a positive influence on my health. Then I go through my day fully believing that the beers are great for my health. Could this effect possible counter any negative effect from the beer?

    Just throwing that out there. I’ve been a beer drinker for years and have quit recently, not due so much to concerns about cancer, but to try and get my weight under control. Now after Dr. Greger’s videos, I plan to remain alcohol free. But I do sometimes really miss those few beers in the evening.

    Additionally, years ago I saw a study that beer drinkers may have stronger bones due to the mineral content of the hops, and I always would drink extremely hoppy beers (IPAs).

    1. Depends on how many beers a day (or wine).

      Moderate consumption of alcohol may be beneficial to bone in men and postmenopausal women. However, in men, high liquor intakes (.2 drinks/d) were associated with significantly lower BMD. The tendency toward stronger associations between BMD and beer or wine, relative to liquor, suggests that constituents
      other than ethanol may contribute to bone health. Silicon appears to mediate the association of beer, but not that of wine or liquor, with BMD. Other components need further investigation.

      Tucker, K. L., Jugdaohsingh, R., Powell, J. J., Qiao, N., Hannan, M. T., Sripanyakorn, S., . . . Kiel, D. P. (2009). Effects of beer, wine, and liquor intakes on bone mineral density in older men and women. The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 89(4), 1188-1196. 10.3945/ajcn.2008.26765

      1. it may well control contribute to bone health but the World Health Organization IARC agency concluded, after reviewing all the evidence, that ethanol is a Group 1 carcinogen.

        “There is sufficient evidence in humans for the
        carcinogenicity of alcohol consumption. Alcohol
        consumption causes cancers of the oral cavity,
        pharynx, larynx, oesophagus, colorectum, liver
        (hepatocellular carcinoma) and female breast.
        Also, an association has been observed between
        alcohol consumption and cancer of the pancreas”
        http://monographs.iarc.fr/ENG/Monographs/vol100E/mono100E-11.pdf

        I drink occasionally myself but I strongly suspect it is a bad idea. No point in fooling myself. I drink occasionally with my eyes open to the risks. The only possibility that might argue in favour of low alcohol consumption is the possibility of hormetic effects. However, there is no good evidence (at least not yet) that light alcohol consultion benefits mortality risk.
        https://www.medscape.com/viewarticle/824237

        1. If you read the study, it says specifically beer is the best for bone health. As I’ve mentioned many times, fermented beverages are not the same as distilled. Even cacao and coffee are fermented :)

          But, even though I can pretty much make or get all the beer I want, and usually for free, I’ve also cut back. Just because it makes me eat more, and then I get fat.

  6. Only to add “where researchers found that alcohol in small doses reduced heart disease” the researchers themselves concluded “the detrimental effects [of drinking alcohol] out weighed the benefits.” In short, alcohol is a toxin, it has no nutritional value and if U R so inclined it is not conducive to spiritual development. However humanity appears to be obsessed with it and has to justify its consumption at every turn.

    1. “it is not conducive to spiritual development. ”

      Indeed. The fifth precept of Buddhism is to “Abstain from the use of any intoxicant”. Ironically, the First Noble Truth of Buddhism is that “Life is Suffering”. Explaining the popularity of intoxicants throughout human history.

    2. The “justify” part that people are looking for is interesting. I forwarded link to this week’s “French paradox” video to a neighbor who for years has been justifying is chocolate and red wine treats on the premise of the resveratrol benefits. He didn’t like hearing the myth being dispelled with facts.

      I suggested he go ahead and eat chocolate and drink red wine if that’s want he wanted to do but just accept that you are doing it for whatever emotional pleasure or mood impacts they provide you and not based on some false pretense. Same goes for the j-curve myth being dispelled in this video.

      Really like Dr. Greger’s efforts to make us aware of valid evidence based truths so you can choose how much you and your loved ones want to work to keep the desired statistical outcomes in your favor.

      1. I am laughing, because there are different people who show up to argue each topic where there is a “pleasure trap” type thing and I agree with you.

        It is okay to take adult responsibility and eat chocolate and drink wine or beer or do other “risky” behaviors.

        But the language should be one of accepting that personal risk.

        The problem comes, because there is a risk, which Dr. Greger is pointing out, because people don’t know about it and people tend to want to influence other people and get them to not come to an understanding of the truth.

        That is something that isn’t okay, because people could get Cancer from not knowing the risks and those uninformed people are the ones who get injured when people who are informed just try to “spin” the information.

      2. You wrote:

        …video to a neighbor who for years has been justifying is chocolate and red wine treats on the premise of the resveratrol benefits…

        I suggested he go ahead and eat chocolate and drink red wine if that’s want he wanted to do but just accept that you are…

        I’ll finish that last ellipse for you. “but just accept that you are” on the right track but there is certainly more to eating *dark* chocolate than getting the benefits of Resveratrol. That is, eating dark chocolate can open your blood carriers (and by extension, carry more oxygen throughout your body) due to the fact it starts the benefits of Nitric Oxide. Not only that, it has many anti-oxidants that are beneficial.

        The link to chocolate being healthy is below. I once read a piece suggesting that for our good health we should eat dark chocolate 5 times a day. I try to do at least that much.

        Maybe you should be listening to your neighbor rather than trying to school him or her. ‘-)

        https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3022066/

        1. @Lonie

          The link you shared contained the statement “One important factor to consider when an integrative conclusion wants to be drawn from all these investigations is the composition of the chocolate used. Unfortunately, there is not a standardized chocolate or a consistent standardization (qualitative and/or quantitative) of the chocolate components through the different studies.”

          My take away from that is you are left to guess at the type and quantity of cocoa based chocolate to eat daily in order to achieve any of the stated benefits discussed in the paper. Did you find something in that paper that was specific about what form and quantity is relevant?

          1. “One important factor to consider when an integrative conclusion wants to be drawn from all these investigations is the composition of the chocolate used. Unfortunately, there is not a standardized chocolate or a consistent standardization (qualitative and/or quantitative) of the chocolate components through the different studies.”

            My take away from that is you are left to guess at the type and quantity of cocoa based chocolate to eat daily in order to achieve any of the stated benefits discussed in the paper.

            You make good points. I (erroneously) just assume everyone knows that the higher the amount of cacao in the chocolate the better it is for you.

            For years I would cut off a piece of Bakers baking chocolate squares and eat that bitter stuff by itself. In the past couple of years I have resorted to adding Raw Organic Cacao Powder to the bakers chocolate when melting it before pouring it onto a greased (with coconut oil) sheet and then cut it into squares with a pizza wheel before it sets up really hard in the fridge.

            In the winter I do a nightly glass of the cacao powder instead and mix it with some other goodies like ashwagandha powder, a pinch of pterostilbene powder, a bit of Niacin powder, some Creatine powder, some magnesium powder, Inulin powder and brewers yeast powder.

            And I’ll either drink this with a few ginger snaps or cinnamon graham crackers. If the mix is too bitter, I may add a dash of pure maple syrup to make it more palatable.

            Oh and if I’m taking this close to my bedtime, I’ll add a smidge of 5htp powder. Otherwise, I’ll take the 5htp in a capsule form with my other pre-bedtime supplements.

            Dark chocolate has been in the news so much I just assume everyone knows of its benefits by now.

            1. That’s what I would see as a fairly complex regime and does it match what the study used in form, quality and quantity to arrive at their conclusions about benefits of cocao. Point being studies arrive at some conclusion about something like cocao and then this gets out in the wild in the simplified form of “eating dark chocolate” or “drinking cocao based hot beverages” is good for you in the following ways. So a person goes out and grabs whatever is on shelf at local grocery store and starts ensuring they consume it regularly while all the time being no where close in form, quality, or quantity that was used in study that said there where benefits.

              1. I just found the study to give you a sense of the benefits of chocolate. Otherwise that particular study means nothing to me as I have been on the chocolate benefit bandwagon for more than a decade.

                I just typed in dark chocolate + nitrous oxide for a google search and that returned 33,900 results so there has probably been sufficient research data out there.

                Granted, there are blogs and the like on the Internet that do make those non-boring references about dark chocolate that their readers wouldn’t understand if they quoted the research. Still, many of those bloggers do get the real skinny out to their reader/watchers in an easily understood way.

                But irregardless of that, unlike you I think chocolate of any kind (even the milk chocolate if that’s all a person will eat) is better for a person than none at all.

            2. Lonie, people are hearing, “Chocolate” is good for you, unless they watch Dr. Oz or the Doctors or come to a site like this, they are probably not even listening that closely.

              I remember many parties where people were eating milk chocolate, which is linked to Cancer, and hearing people say, “Chocolate is good for you.”

              You are listing a whole bunch of things, which the average American has never even heard of.

              They hear, “Wine is good for you.” “Chocolate is good for you.” and that is the sentence they repeat. Most of the people I interact with outside of the ones who really are into health shows, don’t know the difference between cocoa and cacao and neither did I until researching it with the last cocoa video.

              I have eaten cacao, but didn’t really like it. Chocolate, that I was addicted to, until I found out that I was low in Magnesium.

              Laughing, I also hated Matcha tea and soy milk and Turmeric, but I have reprogrammed my mind and I drink Matcha Tea with Soy milk every day and use Turmeric. And, yes, I know I lose the antioxidants by putting soy milk in my Matcha. Most of my relatives have never heard of Matcha and have never used Turmeric and look at me like I am crazy if I use a sentence about antioxidants.

              Though my brother did listen and won’t let his wife force him to take antioxidant supplements, because he heard that they might kill him faster and if they tasted like chocolate or wine, he might go along with it, but swallowing a handful of pills is what my sister-in-law does and she doesn’t believe me about the “killing faster” issue. Plus, she doesn’t eat any fruits or vegetables at all and neither did her 85 year old chain smoking mother, who doesn’t even have signs of emphysema and never ate even one cup of broccoli. (Someday, I am going to get her to tell me whether she uses Turmeric or drinks Matcha or Dandelion Tea or something healthy somewhere or if it is all genetics.)

              1. Deb, are you a dog? Reason I ask is because you keep saying that chocolate will kill you. Where did you hear that?

                Oh, and chocolate does provide some magnesium, but personally I still supplement because magnesium is such an important mineral.

                1. Deb may be thinking of stories like this

                  http://www.dailymail.co.uk/health/article-4010370/Why-cancer-patients-avoid-CHOCOLATE-Ingredient-make-tumours-spread-body-making-disease-deadly.html

                  According to the American Cancer Society

                  ” studies have come back with mixed results. Some report that eating chocolate may lower the risk of certain cancers, while others show no benefit, and still others show that eating chocolate increases cancer risk.”
                  https://www.cancer.org/latest-news/can-chocolate-be-good-for-you.html

                  1. Tom, the first one said it was the Palm Oil found in some product that they perceive as the danger for people already with cancer and the second one is a few paragraphs that are about as wishy washy as I’ve read in a long time.

                    If those are the best you can find to support the erroneous idea that chocolate will kill you, then I feel quite safe and will probably increase my uptake of the wonderful stuff. ‘-)

                    1. Lonie

                      You pooh-poohed Deb’s claim that chocolate could kill and asked where she heard that.

                      All I did was point out that there are studies out there that support Debs claim – by suggesting that chocolate consumption can increase cancer risk.

                      As for the second one, if the American Cancer Society states that there are some studies showing that chocolate consumption is associated with increased cancer risk, then I am inclined to believe them even if you think the statement is “wishy washy”.

                      As for the first one about palm oil in chocolate, that is relevant since you have said that chocolate including white chocolate is good for us. I doubt that given that palm oil, milk proteins and fats plus sugar are in many chocolate products.found in suermarkets etc

                      i drink cacao regularly and I think that it is beneficial but I have my doubts about many other chocolate products – especially white chocolates since I suspect (but don’t know) that the unhealthy ingrediates negate the benefits of the cacao. Dark chocolates high in cacao are another matter.

                    2. ” studies have come back with mixed results. Some report that eating chocolate may lower the risk of certain cancers, while others show no benefit, and still others show that eating chocolate increases cancer risk.

                      The statements in bold are where I came to the conclusion the link was wishy-washy. They are saying chocolate may be good for you, or it may be neutral, or it could be bad for you. Arses covered… mission complete. ‘-)

                      As for the first one about palm oil in chocolate, that is relevant since you have said that chocolate including white chocolate is good for us.

                      Tom, I challenge you to find in any of my writings or a person who has ever heard me say white chocolate is good for us. I would rather eat a fried turd (disgusting image planted for effect) than even touch white chocolate to my lips. As a matter of fact, I do not even consider the white “chocolate” as real chocolate.

                      And as I have posted before in this comments section, I eat cacao or pure bakers chocolate almost exclusively.

                      I’d like to think you aren’t misrepresenting my position as a form of calumny, but please get your facts straight going forward.

                    3. Lonie

                      You wrote
                      “Tom, I challenge you to find in any of my writings or a person who has ever heard me say white chocolate is good for us.”

                      Go back half a dozen or so posts to yours of 4 April at 10.13pm where you wrote
                      “But irregardless of that, unlike you I think chocolate of any kind (even the milk chocolate if that’s all a person will eat) is better for a person than none at all.”

                    4. And if milk chocolate gives a person 10% of the results of dark chocolate, then that IS better than 0% results without it.

                      But nowhere did I suggest that white chocolate is part of that. As I said in my last post, I don’t even consider white “chocolate” as real chocolate.

                2. Lonie, You don’t need to be insulting. That is not proper etiquette for an argument and I don’t appreciate it.

                  If I respond back in kind, it would be unkind of me and I will not do that.

                  Chocolate has things in it, which may damage DNA and they are looking at whether those lasting DNA damages might cause Cancer.

                  But there are things in it, which genuinely have tested as dangerous.

                  Here is a quote:

                  “We actually think it’s bad to eat chocolate everyday for a totally different reason… the potential for cadmium and lead poisoning.

                  During the past few years this concern has hit mainstream media, because multiple groups have conducted laboratory testing and reported disturbing results. The non-profit As You Sow had tested 70 chocolate products and found that 45 contained lead and/or cadmium above California’s Prop 65 threshold (13).

                  Those which reportedly failed their test included high end organic dark chocolate brands like Equal Exchange, Theo, and Endangered Species, as well as lower cost brands like Hershey’s, Trader Joe’s, Whole Foods brand, See’s Candies, and Ghirardelli.

                  Again, those numbers were not alarming enough for us to forgo chocolate altogether, but we have cut back on our daily consumption of raw cacao powder. The powders seem to test worse than the nibs and bars. Some have speculated if the machinery used for processing cocoa beans might be a reason for that.”

                  1. I will bring the links to

                    Cadmium and cancer: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23430782

                    And

                    Lead and Cancer: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23803087

                    And

                    Genetic Mutations and Cancer: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24132290

                    Sweeteners and Cancer: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19277880

                    Milk and Cancer (since Milk Chocolate was my example) : https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/12394243

                    I probably could keep going, but I can’t right now.

                    I go back to Cacao, even that is not straightforward in logic:

                    “According to the National Confectioners Association (US based), the raw and un-roasted form of cacao, which lacks the heating process, makes the beans more susceptible to bacteria and toxic contamination. This happens because any heating and roasting process will destroy bacteria.

                    Over half the microbes that contribute to fermentation naturally create mycotoxins. Mycotoxins are fungi that contaminate food and are unseen to the naked eye. When the roasting stage is removed, like it is with raw cacao, the mycotoxins remain present. Alfatoxin and ochratoxin are examples of mycotoxins and according to renowned nutritionist Georgia Dind have the following effects:

                    • Neurotoxic (destroys nervous tissue)
                    • Immunosuppressive (suppresses immune function)
                    • Genotoxic (causes genetic mutations)
                    • Carcinogenic (cancer causing)
                    • Teratogenic (causes birth defects)

                    Dind further suggests, that while roasting does not inactivate mycotoxins, it will completely kill the mould that produces them.

                    Similar to mycotoxins, salmonella is said to be another contaminate in raw cacao. Salmonella bacteria is usually associated with raw chicken or raw eggs but has now been found in raw cacao too. Salmonella becomes present during the drying, handling and storing process and usually comes from unclean water, certain farming practices and cross contamination with animal and their excrements.”

                    1. I’m not going to play link showdown with you, but here is just one link to counter your links, and I bet if anyone wanted to keep score, the pro chocolate links would bury your negative links 100-1.

                      Pioneer observations by McCullough et al.(26) indicated that the Kuna Indians of Panama have a very low incidence of hypertension and cardiovascular disease, but when members of this tribe moved to Panama urban places, their BP increased. The migration leads to cultural changes including an important decrease in cocoa consumption, making cocoa the potential responsible for the observed changes in BP. Epidemiologically, a sub-study of the Zutphen population showed that cocoa (chocolate) consumption was associated with a decrease in BP and cardiovascular mortality.(5) Intervention trials with cocoa and cocoa products have included different groups of subjects: normotensive (young, old, overweight, hypercholesterolemic), pre-hypertensive, hypertensive stage 1, and hypertensive with impaired glucose tolerance. Most of the studies showed that cocoa consumption was associated with a decrease in BP.(27)

                      https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3022066/

                  2. Lonie, You don’t need to be insulting. That is not proper etiquette for an argument and I don’t appreciate it.

                    If I respond back in kind, it would be unkind of me and I will not do that.

                    Argument hell! This is WAR… war on dangerous posting. You must be stopped at all costs! Anything Goes! ‘-)

                    Here is a quote:

                    “We actually think it’s bad to eat chocolate everyday for a totally different reason… the potential for cadmium and lead poisoning.

                    Who made that quote. You can’t just pull a quote out of your arse and expect others to give it validity. Where’s the link?

                    The non-profit As You Sow had tested 70 chocolate products and found that 45 contained lead and/or cadmium above California’s Prop 65 threshold (13).

                    California makes sellers put a warning label on a cup of coffee which whether justified or not gives them the reputation of being warning crazy.

                    As for the non-profit (what a joke… non-profit is just a way around paying taxes) that could be just a bunch of high school kids with good intentions but lacking in expertise.

                    Chocolate has things in it, which may damage DNA and they are looking at whether those lasting DNA damages might cause Cancer.

                    I may become a billionaire tomorrow and I might share the wealth with you.

                    Both are unlikely, but both those terms seem to work for you. ‘-)

                    1. Lonie, As You Sow is the one who had the chocolate tested.

                      There are other topics with potential risk factors associated with chocolate, like pesticides and aluminum in the soil and GMO’s and the type of oils used, etc.

                      https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/full/10.1111/j.1747-0765.2005.tb00097.x

                      http://www.academicjournals.org/journal/AJAR/article-abstract/22992A937719

                      https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0261219408000392

                      I could keep going, but the whole point is that you are questioning whether there is any risk and I am saying, “Yes, there is a risk” and I am not at war against you, just a war to make sure people are getting a full picture of the information.

                    2. Lonie, I am not doing dangerous posting.

                      I don’t understand that you are wanting to do an aggressive process, because I share some studies.

                      It isn’t study versus study.

                      It is that people need to take the information and put it together and make wise choices.

                      There are things like soil and water pollution and pesticides, which will continue to change the information on all foods.

                      It shouldn’t be threatening to us to hear the realities. It may cause us to shift perspectives and change brand names or abstain if a risk ratio changes.

                      I am not denying the pro-cacao studies. I am saying that it isn’t that we should be blindly eating any brand of cacao without checking to see if something has changed with safety issues and processes. Chocolate has changed. Major brands change things like which oil. Things like soil getting polluted with arsenic and lead changes things.

                      I am not paranoid about it and I am not against people eating it, but I am against hiding the real risks.

    3. I have no dog in this fight being not a drinker but…
      some of the most progressive peoples of the fifties Allan Watts for one who was a notorious alcoholic was also by my read for that time and day pretty spiritually advanced.
      It ended up killing him and others like Kerouac but it was a part of them even when they were at their peaks professionally and seemingly spiritually. And I mention but two of many of that day and age.

  7. These nutritional / health myth busting videos are so valuable. Thank you dr. greger for your continued hard work to research and bubble up findings like this in a form that regular folk can comprehend.

  8. Well, hell’s bells. I gave up meat and virtually all dairy to go WFPB nearly five years ago at age 62. Then I learned that even small amounts of olive oil are the devil. And more moderate use of any of the above is painted as being nearly as bad as heavier indulgences.

    Now an occasional beer or glass of wine fall into the same category? I won’t even ask about a couple of cocktails and few sips of champagne at a wedding reception.

    Eating and drinking are becoming less fun by the day. Therefore, at a I think I’ll continue to enjoy a bit of alcohol. A woman can only stand so many fruits, vegetables, beans, and whole grains before she screams “UNCLE!”

    Not shooting at the messenger, but I’m getting increasingly discouraged at what is good or not good to eat, drink and do. I have begun to frame all of this with the truth that we’re all eventually going die of something no matter what we eat or eschew.

    p.s. In the name of all that’s holy, Dr. Gregor, I beg that you NOT offer a fun or fact-filled exposé on the half dozen Peeps some of us eat every Easter season. Ditto our occasional Reece’s Peanut Butter Cup or fun-sized Snickers. Don’t get me started on Girl Scout cookies.

    1. @jCarol the way I look at this is you have to decide how important putting yourself on the desired side of the statistics is to accepting that statistics are not guarantees and so you could follow all the evidence based paths and still have run into issues just like those who knowingly or unknowingly ignore all the evidence based guidance and die quickly and w/o suffering in their latter years. With the latter its subjective given I have lots of folks try and provide me testimony of how they or family members are very old and did whatever they liked, but then the quality of the health they had I found to be very subjective.

      Another way I look at all this is to see food as fuel and not the social entertainment and something easy to do when you are bored tool that many use it for. Instead I’ve started asking folks hell bent on every social activity involving eating unhealthy food and drinking to join me on a walk and talk hike in a local outdoor area that is beautiful and uplifting. Those brave enough to try something different typically say they really enjoyed the alternative. Those that have no interest I start to drift away from and move more towards a social circle of people with shared views on respecting our health given all the people who are unhealthy and wish they were not through nothing of their own doing.

      1. You know you’ve gone over the WFPB edge when all those non WFPB “indulgences” like candy, oil, refined sugar, highly processed food, animal products, etc sound disgusting to you and would probably make you sick. After 18 years vegan and 2 1/2 WFPB, I’m way beyond any of that sounding appealing. It really is all what you’re used to. Unfortunately, difficult to find friends in their mid fifties that want (are able) to go trail running.

        1. Yes its difficult to find older, and young, friends that want to try something different when socializing than simply getting together for food and drink indulgences. I’m choosing to steer away from encounters like that accepting it takes work to grow the group of friends you have that are happy with conversation only and/or outdoor activity when socializing. I also try to look at wfpb nutrition, and the discipline it requires, as a form of showing respect for the health I have lucked into given all people who have birth/genetic/etc. based disease with no good treatments that would give anything to have good health.

        2. Unfortunately, difficult to find friends in their mid fifties that want (are able) to go trail running.

          Sounds like trail running is your little guilty pleasure.

          How are you going to justify that when the science reveals that exercising is burning your life candle faster?

          That is, increasing metabolism means your cell telomeres lose their caps because the cells divide more often… and eventually those cells die because they can no longer divide.

          You may Jim Fixx on the people you don’t relate to because they do not run the woods. That is, they may be attending your funeral rather than the other.

          Not saying some exercise isn’t good… just maybe take the supplements that can ameliorate the damage.

      2. myusrn, yeah food is fuel among other things, but enjoyment is important too and enjoying one’s food isn’t only ok, it’s a great thing. I think it’s important to make food that is enjoyable and is simply made out of the ingredients that we’re meant to eat. Love the hiking thing (I wish people did more like that instead of the same crap all the time), but why not eat awesome (and healthy) food AND hike?
        Personally, I want people to respect their health for two main reasons: 1) I want my loved one’s to be healthy and I want others to understand the way their bodies and nutrition work so that not only can they be healthy but their loved ones can be healthy as well as opposed to being victims of industry lies. 2) It becomes so irritating when people complain about the same ailments over and over and when you offer them actual information that they themselves can learn about from which they could actually help themselves with and they’d rather just keep doing EVERYTHING the same and keep complaining about the consequences or WORSE… talking about some miracle cure supplement or essential oil or drug that will fix everything for them…. *sigh….
        Anyways though, if people are unwilling to do these things, hard as it is and frustrating as it can be at times, I’m not going to be all “I am holier than thou” and hike my way out of their lives.
        It’s more important to me that people respect the lives of others which is the reason I went plant based (as a consequence of going vegan) in the first place. And even then, the majority of the people I know are far from on that track.
        That leads me to offering my “take” on the whole thing. I don’t think small amounts of oil are evil I even think they have some benefits but science shows they can be harmful in large amounts, Dr. Greger recommends the whole food because it’s better, he also recommends no salt because it’s the holy grail of diets and what not. For me, life should be in good health but also it should be about living, so I’d rather be extremely healthy and not strive for some idea of perfect perfection (like foraging through unexplored forests for my meals… fun as that might actually be – not even joking ’cause that would be kinda fun) and eat a more enjoyable diet that I see as the most beneficial for me. At the end of the day, I just want to put good things in my body that will help it and avoid things that will harm it and more importantly than anything, I want to not cause harm to others in order to do it.

        So, even though no one asked (lol) that is my take on the whole thing. And I think that’s the point… Dr. Greger gives us the best science and evidence and is totally to the point, totally unadulterated, not watered down, and then we take it and we make the best choices with that knowledge. But here’s why it’s so important people (even people not concerned about their health) go completely plant based… because while it’s ok to choose to consume what you want, it isn’t ok to consume who you want as when there are victims involved, it’s no longer a personal choice.

        Health makes life better and helps our time here and our loved ones’ time here last longer, but life is about so much more than just health and I sometimes feel like some people lose sight of that. I think there are two extremes from both ends. The most important thing we can do with our lives is to be good and do good and that is pretty hard to do when partaking in horrific, unimaginable cruelty.

    2. JCarol…don’t feel so bad. Dr Greger recounts how he grew and ate some elderberries I think it was, not knowing they were toxic if uncooked and indeed could kill….him recounting how the media would read…Author of the how not to die book dies….
      But luckily for him and us he threw them up without lasting damage ;)

      Eat the best of the best and get hit by a bus crossing the walk,,,it happens. I personally can take only about three quarters of this abstract the morality seriously,

  9. @myusrn: My comment was half bitch-and-moan and half tongue-in-cheek. As a longtime follower of NF, I always take Dr. Gregor’s research and opinions seriously.

    I apologize if my attempt at levity missed the mark.

    1. LOL! Yes, half tongue-in-cheek is one of the hardest types of jokes to figure out on the internet.

      And bitch and moan doesn’t translate at all.

      I laugh, because there was a comment the other day of missing the days of Jerry Lewis and I always felt if he were just a little funnier, things would have gone better, but that is probably not fair to say to him, because if you have the name, Jerry Lewis, people must be expecting you to be funny all the time. Not picking on him.

      It is just that if people are going to challenge Dr. Greger’s logic, I feel like they should either bring studies or funnier jokes.

  10. Dave – I respect your personal choices. I also don’t always eat a perfect diet, and surely I make non-diet choices that aren’t optimal as well. But wouldn’t you rather make those choices with your eyes open and a clear view of the risk-benefit trade off, based on the best available science? One of the many things I love about NF.org is that dr. G does not tell us what to do; he reports the science and leaves it to us to decide what to do with it. Like the intelligent beings we are.

    If you give some specific examples of the scientific bias you believe to exist in dr G’s work, then that’s worth debating. General statements of opinion and personal anecdotes don’t add much to our community.

    1. “One of the many things I love about NF.org is that dr. G does not tell us what to do; he reports the science and leaves it to us to decide what to do with it. Like the intelligent beings we are.”

      EXACTLY!! Excellent post, KB.

  11. JCarol: It didn’t miss the mark with me. I completely agree. I’m starting to believe that the stress caused by worrying about what we are eating may outweigh any benefits …..Oh….not to mention the loss of joy by giving up all the pleasures of life….

  12. I just quit after 35 years of drinking.

    The taste changed and I’m listening to my body.

    It was fun mostly, toxic always, risky sometimes (as is my nature) but NEVER healthful (and I knew that).

    And now I simply no longer desire it. Happened overnight-took a week of tapering off/fighting it (also avoiding withdrawal). Now, no mas.

    Still transitioning as it doesn’t quite “feel normal” not to have a beer in my hand after BeerThirty. One beer in the fridge and a fresh bottle of tequila at hand. Just no desire for either.

    1. Well done, Wade! Why don’t you just chuck the rest of the alcohol down the drain. Have done with it once and for all! All good wishes for your health and well-being. please do

    2. Wade, you will do it.

      I know, because you aren’t lying to yourself about the health benefits.

      It is self-talk that tricks us about things.

      I have been doing a changing my self-talk process (I am actually stimulating my vagal nerve with a MicroPulse Ices device to see if I could change my emotional attachment to things, but having such an emotional attachment that we tell ourselves lies is what has to change for our tastes to change.

      Time away also does it.

      I no longer crave chocolate, which I had an “It’s good for you” mental process about, plus craving. I fixed my Magnesium levels. Learned that chocolate causes cancer. Cacao is what is good for you and that doesn’t trigger the same cravings.

      Once you stop lying, it is replacing the “I love…..” with “I will not let my body be poisoned” and the “I hate…..” with “I like having a healthy body and I will get used to the taste of all of these healthy foods”

      I have “kicked” the junk food and soda habit and dairy and most processed foods and all of it seemed like I “couldn’t do it” and then I came out the other side and couldn’t even eat the scalloped potatoes my sister-in-law made at Easter. Six months ago, I had “I love cheese” and now I have cheese as this Cancer making foreign invader, which is like a lying psychopath with a charming personality.

  13. I just love cooking (especially mushrooms) with wine. Assuming the alcohol evaporates during cooking, that should be pretty harmless, right? Wine is also good for making a nice tomato sauce, or for poaching pears. The amounts involved are modest, so I’m going to hope it’s okay.

    1. Chessie, that is a fabulous question and I would have the same one.

      I don’t really drink, except celebrations, but I have used red wine in cooking, and liked it.

      1. Fabulous link, Cierra! Thanks!

        I love that they have so many methods of cooking represented and that they give substitutions at the bottom.

        Nonalcoholic wine is one of their suggestions if you cook with red wine.

        That is something to think about.

      2. Great link, Cierra. I love the substitutions. Although for the Grand Marnier I would add a little grated orange rind to the juice or blended orange.

  14. And unlike arguments over the nutrient value of flesh, there is no nutrient value in alcohol, or none that you can’t get better elsewhere, so why drink at all? I don’t drink but I assume the persistence of the habit is because people like the sedative, mood altering effect. Fine, just stay away from me when you are high- drunks are bores- and bear in mind the health cost.

    1. Pure alcohol and you would be correct. Fermented beverages, yes they do have nutritional elements in them.

      Moderate consumption of red wine, beer and spirits has counteracting effects on plasma
      antioxidant components, resulting in no signi®cant effect on overall antioxidant status. The effects on antioxidant
      parameters are largely independent of the type of alcoholic beverage, and probably irrelevant to chronic disease
      risk.

      Gaag, v. d., M.S, Berg, v. d., R, Schaafsma, G., & Heniks, H. J. F. (2000). Moderate consumption of beer, red wine and spirits has counteracting effects on plasma antioxidants in middle-aged men. European Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 54(7), 586-591. 10.1038/sj.ejcn.1601061

      Short-term moderate beer consumption positively influences plasma lipid levels,
      plasma antioxidant and anticoagulant activities in hypercholesterolaemic patients. The
      plasma albumin antioxidant activity can be a status marker of atherosclerosis
      prevention in hypercholesterolaemic consumers of beer.

      Gorinstein, >., Caspi, A., Libman, I., Leontowicz, H., Leontowicz, M., Tashma, Z., . . . Trakhtenberg, S. (2007). Bioactivity of beer and its influence on human metabolism.International Journal of Food Sciences and Nutrition, 58(2), 94-107. 10.1080/09637480601108661

      1. Jon

        i don’t share your beliefs about alcohol but thanks for making your case rationally and posting the scientifc refernces underpinning your comments.

        1. No problem, and as I’ve mentioned. I’m not the drink police, and I don’t care what people do or don’t do. But, sometimes, I think the other side is needed to at least contrast with.

    2. So judgmental, Gillian. I think it might be “healthier” to be able to make the choice of not drinking while not judging others who choose to so harshly. I can understand certain circumstances but you’re just generalizing anyone who chooses to have a drink. Sounds more boorish than someone having a few beers, to me.

  15. Still doesn’t explain the Blue Zones where I’m guessing there aren’t a lot of “recovering” drinkers/alcoholic to skew the data?

    1. Every community including Blue Zones will have beneficial and not so beneficial lifestyle/diet practices. We can’t assume that everything they do or consume is necessarily healthy.

      Also, I think that in the one Blue Zone where a specific type of wine was regularly consumed, Sardinia, the groups studied were also thought to have certain genetic advantages (and exercise levels) which may have been primarily responsible for their observed longevity.

  16. What about studies I have heard referenced that women over 70 who were moderate drinkers have better cognative metal ability? Is there any truth to that claim?

    1. Stephen, yes, that is what researchers are saying.

      It has been smaller studies and they have been relatively short term studies, but all, except for two of them found that correlation. It was a stronger trend in female than male drinkers.

      Though my silly sarcastic observational joke is how can they prove that they have better cognitive mental ability, if they are still drinking after hearing drinking causes cancer?

      I am making a joke, but I meant it truly. There are so many types of intelligence and I am not sure the researchers were smart enough to test for all of them.

      1. I genuinely would like to know what test they gave, because I took a sample MENSA test when I was young and it was just a great big logic test and I got a perfect score, but my brother, said, “Good, you can help me with engineering.” and I already know that if it had been a science test or math test, I would have not tested quite so well.

        I am laughing at that, because I had friends with PTSD from Viet Nam and they put them through ridiculous cognitive tests. Count backwards from 100 by 8’s in a timed test setting. My grandmother was tested on her political knowledge, but they couldn’t get it through their heads that I wouldn’t let her watch politics, because it was so upsetting, so she really didn’t know who the president was and I had it be Christmas every day for the last 4 months of her life, and for the whole Winter the year before, so she didn’t exactly know which day it was or which season it really was, but we had the most tender and sweet and funny and peaceful and vibrant last few years of life possible. She and I had done the same thing with my Uncle, when he was dying of brain cancer and he couldn’t pass their tests either. LOL! I didn’t need them to pass tests. I just wanted them to be present in the moment and enjoy the journey to the end and they did that. They laughed and smiled and held hands with me and sang Christmas carols until the very end.

        And they drank egg nog. LOL! If I had gone WFPB back then, who knows they might still be alive, but it was my favorite use of egg nog.

        1. Laughing, because the reason I took the MENSA test when I was a younger person, was because my friend wanted me to go with her on a Single’s Cruise they were putting on and I laugh, because I got a perfect score on the test, but was smart enough to not go on a cruise with a bunch of people who think they are smarter than other people, because they got perfect scores on a logic test.

          LOL! Not putting MENSA people down. I didn’t go on the cruise and don’t know if there weren’t a lot of nice people on the boat, but I was looking for someone really kindhearted and funny.

    2. An association is not proof of causation. And it may be the other way around anyway – sick/unhealthy people have poorer cognitive ability and may be less able to drink (not encouraged by family carers or in care homes etc) or they may have given up alcohol for health reasons.

      Simple association studies are notoriously vulnerable to confounding.

    3. Stephen

      Just after my first response to you, I found this which I think addresses your specific question

      “Conclusions Beneficial associations between low intensity alcohol consumption and all cause mortality may in part be attributable to inappropriate selection of a referent group and weak adjustment for confounders. Compared with never drinkers, age stratified analyses suggest that beneficial dose-response relations between alcohol consumption and all cause mortality may be largely specific to women drinkers aged 65 years or more, with little to no protection present in other age-sex groups. These protective associations may, however, be explained by the effect of selection biases across age-sex strata.”
      https://www.bmj.com/content/350/bmj.h384

  17. Bourbon has been reported to be a strong antioxidant. I have found just a tiny bit of bourbon helps the vitamins go down. I doubt we will see any studies to support that aspect of the equation.

  18. If these studies are based on patient or self reporting, I don’t know how they make any sense of it. Based on my experience of 35 years in AA, we have some sayings about active alcoholics that make pertinent points: “How do you know when an alcoholic is lying? Their lips are moving.” and active alcoholic answers to questions such as “How much do I drink? Just socially. You’re going to have another drink? Social I.” and “How much have I had to drink? Two beers.” Good luck with analysis of self reported drinking patterns when 10% of the population is probably alcoholic; oops, 12%. https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/wonk/wp/2017/08/11/study-one-in-eight-american-adults-are-alcoholics/?utm_term=.405385d04946

  19. I rarely drink any longer but once a month may enjoy a nice English Stout. Are there studies on blunting the effects of alcohol with Kale or berries?

  20. After practicing 15 years as immuno-clinician in Neurology and cancerology, I have always pointed the fact that people drinking lightly, less than a bottle of 750 ml per week, have a better life expectancy than the general population because they are the people in Europe who are in general eating the classic “cuisine bourgeoise” with some glass of good quality wine and a healthy diet, plant-based with portion control . The basic diet with vegetables cooked and raw are making the difference. Watch the news, French men like women are less overweight, than American because they drink less sugar. Read any magazine you will find page how to eat healthy, delicious and a lot of tips to stay slim with gym, massage etc, Yes they can drink a glass of wine as a usage. The stats are very difficult to interpret. I did a study I published in 2006 in an oral presentation, I coached in Houston TX, people of low income from a church to eat French, to fast, to have Sunday after church the dinner they chose, They were not drinking alcohol from their religion, they stopped to drink sodas, They lose more than 50 pounds, the pastor lost 164pounds in18 months. Good organic teas without milk have more antioxidants than any glass of wine and lower risk of chronic diseases.

  21. Could it be that studies on vegans and vegetarians are also somewhat vitiated by reverse causation? One of the problems being that many people go vegan because they have an illness or want to recover, like from colon cancer, diabetes or a heart attack. We would really need ‘never-meat/dairy/eggs’ people for those studies as well: i.e. lifelong vegans or at least really long term vegans who didn’t go vegan because of pre-existing serious health issues but because of moral/ethical/spiritual reasons. Otherwise ‘veganism’ is pre-selecting very sick people in the study….

      1. Yeah, sure. Sadly, studies on those populations always seem to be ignored because they are considered ‘epidemiological’, and they are not Double-blind randomized control studies…..

        Inviato da iPhone

    1. M85, I think you are probably right about that.

      People used to go vegan more for moral reasons.

      Nowadays, it is reversing diseases.

      It would be helpful, even for this study to have the real details not just the corrected curve. “never drank” versus “always drank moderately” versus “quit drinking before sickness” “quit drinking after sickness” examined separately.

      Same with moral vegan, whole food plant based, junk food vegan, superfoods vegan, and went vegan or WFPB after a disease category.

      Seems like the research is heading that way and the more information we get, the better.

      Seems like people reversing diseases need to know what they have to do to survive. Is it enough to go vegan or do they need WFPB or is it WFPB superfoods. Seems like some diseases would need so many superfoods and others would need to go lower in fat – maybe not eating nuts or avocado or oil.

      I know that is the dotting the “I” and crossing the ‘t” process and it is what doctors and patients and citizen’s need to know.

      1. Disagree a bit Deb.
        Abstract the US global warming is considered a big big deal. And as consequence many are becoming vegan as they want to do what they can. Veganism produces much less individual carbon.
        And athletes, are more and more tending vegan. It just helps recovery. A 2018 sudance movie of some popularity references that.

      2. Deb, there is no such thing as “moral vegan.” All veganism in and of itself is about abstinence from using/exploiting/harming other animal and therefore veganism is a moral way of life. If people say they go “vegan” simply for a diet excluding all animal products, they’re misusing the term, not reinventing it. Animal rights and veganism is a very serious thing. The term “plant based” describes only one’s dietary habits.

    2. M….”Could it be that studies on vegans and vegetarians are also somewhat vitiated by reverse causation?
      Doubt it at least in part. The seventh day Adventist study is probably the largest well known study of vegans and this has a religious group as subject not anyone with particular illnesses.

  22. This is new and path breaking information. I’m glad to see it, because I’ve never been a drinker and don’t like alcohol. Now I have a good, life-affirming reason not to drink it! :-)

  23. I knew a guy who was alcohol free his entire life. At the age of 42 someone played a joke on him by adding 10 ul of vodka to his Iced tea. He was then diagnosed cirrhosis of the liver 18 hours later. Passed away 3 days later.

    1. Angstrom, I wonder if he had nonalcoholic fatty liver or some other risk factor.

      Hard to imagine that amount could cause that much damage that quickly.

      Such a young age.

  24. I’m pleased to see the perennial see-saw of “wine is good for you” debate (advertising?) settled, even if in the most lightly worded of advice when it comes to “how not to die.”

    I’ll drink to that!

    Reverse causality is a sharp, two-edged sword; it also cuts away at the grain strength of the core data. Even when controlled, causality can (as it appears in this case of hammering out a J-curve into a linear correlation) disappear into the margin of error. It’s very clear that above some daily intake, alcohol is a killer. It’s not clear as to the threshold below which it’s a statistically insignificant contributor to, or cause of, death.

    In terms of blood pressure, if we take 115 as the line below which no improvement is found in terms of likelihood of one of the biggest groups of killer diseases (“a dodgy ticker”) then so long as say wine consumption is not pushing BP above 115/75 (with no other symptoms of impaired health, e.g. liver) there would need to be some other cause to advocate teetotalism.

    The conclusion of this video is:
    1) will a glass of wine a day provide any healthful benefit: No.
    2) will a glass of wine cause or contribute to death: No.

    So far as we can tell, zero benefit, zero harm; with a small probability of doing some harm.

    Of all the powerful “how not to die” facts on a scale of 1 to 100, 100 being “don’t eat animals” … this is maybe a 5 or a 10, and could well be a 1 or a 0.

    I’d put this in Dr Gregor’s list of “things that lead to better food choices” … the appetising add-on that makes a leafy green salad enjoyable. If you can find the motivation to get 60-90 minutes of exercise with the “reward” of red wine or a Guinness with dinner, and you’re otherwise in good health, well, there’s nothing in these reports or this video to demand you put your hand over your wine glass and insist upon hibiscus and matcha tea (which, by the way, is a delightful pairing with a good salad.)

  25. A whole new world opens up when we back up and look at the WHOLE picture as opposed to just a small portion of it and view it as if it’s the entire piece. So grateful to Dr. Greger for showing us the whole picture. He has helped me understand the scientific process so much more. A great teacher among other things.

    It’s funny because it’s like a storm of loud, LOUD misinformation or parts and pieces of information or even complete propaganda out there. The world is crazy with it; the INTERNET is crazy with it and that pretty much shapes our understanding to such an unfortunate degree. In the midst of the storm of loudest sounds so often from empty vessels, there’s a voice of truth… not loud, but powerful and calm. So grateful for it.

  26. Greetings, good evening Dr. Greger!

    I’m a student who is preparing an exposition about the benefits of eating plant foods, and I would like to include the information that you mention in your videos but I would like to show the source of the information, and I was wondering if you could tell me how to find the studies that you present in your videos or in what source could I find the links to such studies.

    Regardless, I appreciate very much the content you share in YouTube and your website and I thank you for your attention and your great content.

    I hope you have a good day,

    Alberto Alcántara

    1. Hi Alberto. Underneath the video here on his website, there is a banner with squared sections you can click on including “sources cited.” When you click, all kinds of studies are linked below.

  27. Outstanding detective work! Thank you Dr. Greger for teasing the truth out of this and sharing it in a wonderful format!

  28. Everyone has very valid points to consider. I don’t drink alcohol because I don’t like the taste. I am conflicted by my personal experience with heavy drinkers as they just don’t seem to die early to me. So whilst the alcoholic drinking curve looks steep on it’s own, just wondering how steep it would look compared to curves made by other lifestyle choices. There may be no point avoiding alcohol if you eat a large amount of pesticides?

  29. You’re killing me doc! OK, so I am not putting down my cocktail yet …how much extra kale do I need to eat to mitigate the effects???

  30. That article mentioned about the genetic mutation that lowers LDL is ten years old. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18714375

    Turns out, that mutation is only protective in those of Caucasian/European descent. Found not to be protective in Han Chinese in Meta-analysis. Not well studied in Hispanic, South Asian, Arab or African populations. I wish Dr. Gregor would point out the ethnic/racial differences in his quoted research.

    Biomed Res Int. 2014;2014:564940. doi: 10.1155/2014/564940. Epub 2014 May 12.
    Meta-analysis of low density lipoprotein receptor (LDLR) rs2228671 polymorphism and coronary heart disease.
    Ye H1, Zhao Q2, Huang Y3, Wang L4, Liu H2, Wang C2, Dai D3, Xu L3, Ye M5, Duan S3.
    Author information
    Abstract
    Low density lipoprotein receptor (LDLR) can regulate cholesterol metabolism by removing the excess low density lipoprotein cholesterol (LDL-C) in blood. Since cholesterol metabolism is often disrupted in coronary heart disease (CHD), LDLR as a candidate gene of CHD has been intensively studied. The goal of our study is to evaluate the overall contribution of LDLR rs2228671 polymorphism to the risk of CHD by combining the genotyping data from multiple case-control studies. Our meta-analysis is involved with 8 case-control studies among 7588 cases and 9711 controls to test the association between LDLR rs2228671 polymorphism and CHD. In addition, we performed a case-control study of LDLR rs2228671 polymorphism with the risk of CHD in Chinese population. Our meta-analysis showed that rs2228671-T allele was significantly associated with a reduced risk of CHD (P = 0.0005, odds ratio (OR) = 0.83, and 95% confidence interval (95% CI) = 0.75-0.92). However, rs2228671-T allele frequency was rare (1%) and was not associated with CHD in Han Chinese (P = 0.49), suggesting an ethnic difference of LDLR rs2228671 polymorphism. Meta-analysis has established rs2228671 as a protective factor of CHD in Europeans. The lack of association in Chinese reflects an ethnic difference of this genetic variant between Chinese and European populations.

  31. That said, I very much appreciate being informed of the facts so that I can effectively evaluate the risk vs benefit (pleasantness).

  32. This episode looks a little thin. Are we supposed to believe that a couple glasses of wine a day increases the risk of cancer? REALLY? Because of a few studies? This really smacks of not only simplistic reductionist thinking but the tendency of science be able to design a study to make it say whatever it wants.

    Wine has been drunk for close to 7,000 years now. Cancer was almost unheard of in the past. The epidemic of it today is very new. There’s one hole in the argument. I don’t believe science can tell us something we have completely missed for 7,000 years in terms of social interaction and food. Science most often confirms what we already know. Most of this blog confirms Grandma: “Eat your vegetables!” “Everything in moderation”

    Moderate alcohol consumption increases sociability and relaxation and can provide inspiration and appreciation of life. Does anybody care about that or are we all medical chicken littles? The CANCER is coming! The CANCER is coming! Go ahead be teetotalers based on this study of a study. Have fun! oooops….does tea cause cancer?

    peace. Ginko

  33. Unfortunately more than one clinical study has shown that there is no safe level of ethanol intake. This is how cancer works: constant exposure to low levels of a carcinogen causes DNA damage that results in cancer. It does appear to be dose dependent though, so the less you drink, the lower the risk. The lowest risk is zero ethanol. Grandma’s saying of “everything in moderation” does not apply to carcinogens like asbestos, cigarettes, plutonium and ethanol. Dr. Caldewll Esselstyn has his own saying “Moderation Kills.” No one is telling you what to do though, so if you want to drink, it’s up to you, but it doesn’t change the results of the clinical investigation that clearly show the risks of ethanol consumption.

    And we have known about cancer since about 3000 B.C. :
    https://www.cancer.org/cancer/cancer-basics/history-of-cancer/what-is-cancer.html

    Dr. Ben

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