ISFAR reiterates its defence of moderate alcohol consumption’s health benefits by Stockley et al.

ISFAR was invited to provide a commentary on the paper, Apologizing for the alcohol industry? A comment on ISFAR’s defence of alcohol’s purported health benefits by Stockwell et al. (2024) which is available in the Journal of Studies in Alcohol (JSAD) site: It was duly accepted for publication and the following is an excerpt from the text which is reproduced with the journal’s permission.
Observational longitudinal studies since 2000 continue to support the strong associations between lifestyle factors and healthy ageing published across 15 countries. Regular moderate alcohol consumption is consistently observed as one of the healthy lifestyle factors to reduce overall mortality, risk of vascular diseases, diabetes and dementias. After accounting for potential bias and confounders such as higher socio-economic status, moderate alcohol consumers still have better risk factor profiles than abstainers.
Healthy ageing studies have also looked at the additive effect of consuming alcohol in moderation for those already living healthily. These studies show that even when not smoking, having a healthy diet and a healthy weight, alcohol in moderation will further reduce mortality and myocardial infarction risk. The overall effect was associated with 12-to-14 additional years of life after age 50. Furthermore, in older adults, moderate alcohol consumption is shown to independently confer less frailty associated with ageing, and predicts fewer depressive symptoms. The resultant social interaction, seen as essential to healthy ageing, also improves. Indeed, quality of life as defined by the WHO (1948) does not depend only on biological health but also on mental health and social functioning. A regular pattern of consumption is as important as a moderate amount of alcohol consumed.
Decades of sound clinical and experimental data on biological mechanisms to explain how moderate alcohol consumption could reduce disease by improved multiple mechanisms associated with coronary heart disease risk, that are similarly related to risk of diabetes, dementia and certain cancers. Most importantly, the lipid profile improved by increasing high density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol. Not only was HDL-cholesterol increased, but HDL functionality also improved, e.g., lipoprotein oxidation inhibition improved as well as reverse cholesterol transport. Additionally, inflammation was reduced, fibrinolysis was stimulated and fibrinogen, pivotal in coagulation, was reduced. Similarly, diabetes risk reduction could be explained by adiponectin increases and haemoglobin 1Ac reductions.
Many of the experimental outcomes have been confirmed in epidemiological biomarker studies, that suggest increased levels of the biomarker HDL-cholesterol, lower levels of haemoglobin A1c, and reduced fibrinogen levels attenuated 75% of risk among women and fully attenuated the cardiovascular protective association among men.
The full text and references of ISFAR reiterates its defence of moderate alcohol consumption’s health benefits by Stockley et al. (2024) is available on the JSAD site: