A paper published in the Lancet said no amount of alcohol was safe. But the truth is more measured.
It’s important to note that this study wasn’t a new trial. It was a meta-analysis from many observational studies — probably the largest such analysis done to estimate the risks from drinking for 23 alcohol-related health problems. The researchers found that, overall, harms increased with each additional drink per day, and that the overall harms were lowest at zero.
But observational data can be confounded, meaning that unmeasured factors — genetics, health differences, socioeconomic statuses — might be the actual cause of the harm.
The study warned that even one drink per day carries a risk. But how great is that risk? For each set of 100,000 people who have one drink a day per year, 918 can expect to experience one of the 23 alcohol-related problems in any year. (However, not everyone experiences those 23 issues at the same rate.) Of those who drink nothing, 914 can expect to experience a problem. This means that 99,086 are unaffected, and 914 will have an issue no matter what. Only 4 in 100,000 people who consume a drink a day may have a problem caused by the drinking, the study said. At two drinks per day, the number experiencing a problem increased to 977.
Biggest losers are big health winners
When it comes to losing weight, more can be better. Researchers studied 7,670 overweight or obese people who wanted to lose weight and tested the association of long-term weight loss with lowering the risk for metabolic syndrome — a constellation of conditions that includes high blood pressure, insulin resistance, excess fat around the waist and high triglycerides.
Compared with people who maintained less than a 5 percent weight loss for one year, those who lost 5 to 10 percent lowered their risk for metabolic syndrome by 22 percent. A 15 to 19 percent loss was associated with a 37 percent lower risk, and those who maintained a loss of 20 percent or more had a 53 percent lower risk. The study is in the Mayo Clinic Proceedings.
Solid food for baby may aid better sleep
Parenting experts typically say six months of exclusive breast-feeding is ideal, but many new mothers also suspect that offering some solid food after about three months can assure a good night’s sleep for themselves and their babies.
A study in JAMA Pediatrics agreed, saying babies at 6 months of age who had gotten solid food early were sleeping 17 minutes longer per night, or about two additional hours of sleep a week, than babies who had exclusively breast-fed.