Over the years, the pros and cons of alcohol consumption have been highly debated. It has been linked to many negative health consequences as well as some health benefits. The relationship between alcohol consumption and heart is often complex with past researches linking it to heart diseases including stroke and even death. While some studies say that moderate drinking can be beneficial for the health of the heart, many still find the substance to have just the opposite effect. Therefore, when it comes to determining the effects of alcohol on an individual’s health, the discussion often presents mixed views.
Though there is much confusion on the topic, those who really enjoy a drink or two should become aware of the health consequences or risks associated with alcohol consumption. To get clarity on the subject, the National Institute of Health (NIH), is initiating a $100 million clinical trial to assess whether a drink a day is actually good for one’s heart.
Although the research is aimed at settling the ongoing debate involving alcohol consumption and heart, the biggest surprise is that the bulk of the funding for the trial will be borne by the alcohol industry itself. According to Margaret Murray, director, Global Alcohol Research Program at the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA), five of the largest alcoholic beverage manufacturers: Carlsberg, Pernod Ricard, Anheuser-Busch InBev, Heineken and Diageo, have already pledged $67.7 million, to the foundation that raises money for the NIH, for the trial.
What will the trial involve?
The much-hyped trial will be carried out by the NIH and overseen by NIAAA. It would involve nearly 8,000 individuals (men and women) aged 50 years and above with either a prevalent cardiovascular disease or those who are at high risk of developing one. The trial planned for six years at 16 medical centers worldwide, will assign participants randomly to two groups. The first one would be asked to quit alcohol altogether and the second one will be asked to drink a single alcoholic beverage of their choice every day during the trial. The trial will then observe the health of the heart of the participants to see which group suffered more heart attacks, strokes and deaths.
For the purposes of the trial, moderate drinking is being defined as 5 ounces of wine, 1.5 ounces of distilled spirits or 12 ounces of beer, significantly lower than what is considered as moderate levels of drinking for men and women. It would also exclude problem-drinkers and people who have never consumed alcohol. Participants in the drinking group will be partly reimbursed for the cost of alcohol.
Credibility of study
According to critics, allowing the alcohol industry to pay for the major share of the trial might hamper the independence of the study, influence the results or introduce biases. In spite of the skeptics, the trial could also backfire on its main sponsors, that is, the alcohol industry eventually affecting their sales.
Among those defending the clinical trial is Dr. George F. Koob, director of the alcohol institute. According to him, “This study could completely backfire on the alcoholic beverage industry, and they’re going to have to live with it. The money from the foundation for the NIH has no strings attached. Whoever donates to that fund has no leverage whatsoever — no contribution to the study, no input to the study, no say whatsoever.”
Supporting the contributions of the alcohol industry, Gemma R. Hart, vice president communications at Anheuser-Busch, a brewing company, said that the role of alcohol manufacturers was limited to the funding that they provided. She further clarified that the manufacturers would not be privy to the results of the trial and would come to know about them when everybody else does.
Alcohol addiction needs treatment
While much has been said about the benefits of alcoholic beverages such as wine on an individual’s heart, there is no scientific proof that drinking wine or any other alcoholic beverage can replace conventional treatment modalities to lower high blood pressure and bad cholesterol.
A leading alcohol rehab center, Sovereign Health of Florida offers a comprehensive alcohol treatment at both its Pompano Beach and Fort Myers facilities. Offering each of our patients’ top-notch treatment, our programs are tailor-made post an intensive physical and psychological evaluation that helps speed up the recovery process and prevent any relapse.
Our treatment for alcohol addiction involves detoxification that is followed by intensive behavioral therapies including individual and group therapy and cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT). For more information on our treatment programs or to locate our state-of-the-art alcohol detox center near you, call our 24/7 helpline number. You can even chat online with our representatives for further assistance.