Thursday 29 July 2010

The J-curve

I'd wondered how any reasonable review of the literature could conclude other than that there's a strong J-curve in all-source mortality with alcohol consumption.

American government dietary guidelines now agree (HT: Reason). From their latest report:
Total Mortality. In most Western countries where chronic diseases such as CHD, cancer, stroke and diabetes are the primary causes of death, results from large epidemiological studies consistently show that alcohol has a favorable association with total mortality especially among middle age and older men and women. A recent updated meta-analysis of all-cause mortality demonstrated an inverse association between moderate drinking and total mortality (Di Castelnuovo, 2006). The relative risk of all-cause mortality associated with moderate drinking was approximately 0.80. The J-shaped curve, with the lowest mortality risk for men and women at the average level of one to two drinks per day, is likely due to the protective effects of moderate alcohol consumption on CHD, diabetes and ischemic stroke as summarized in this chapter.
Another interesting tidbit:
Moderate evidence suggests that compared to non-drinkers, individuals who drink moderately have a slower cognitive decline with age. Although limited, evidence suggests that heavy or binge drinking is detrimental to age-related cognitive decline.
Maybe the New Zealand Drug Foundation will someday stop considering the J-curve a myth.

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