A sad story in the New York Times about how scientists at the National Institute of Health sought funding from and were potentially influenced by alcohol industry executives for an ongoing study that seeks to prove a daily alcoholic drink is healthy.
Here are the key parts:
- “It was going to be a study that could change the American diet, a huge clinical trial that might well deliver all the medical evidence needed to recommend a daily alcoholic drink as part of a healthy lifestyle.”
- “The 10-year government trial is now underway, and Anheuser Busch InBev, Heineken and other alcohol companies are picking up most of the tab, through donations to a private foundation that raises money for the National Institutes of Health.”
- “The alcohol study is overseen by the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, one of 27 centers under the N.I.H. The lead investigator and N.I.H. officials have said repeatedly that they never discussed the planning of the study with the industry. But a different picture emerges from emails and travel vouchers obtained by The New York Times under the Freedom of Information Act, as well as from interviews with former federal officials.”
- “The fund-raising may have violated N.I.H. policy, which prohibits employees from soliciting or suggesting donations, funds or other resourcesintended to support activities. At the least, the campaign is bound to raise more questions about the independence of the investigators and the scientific integrity of the huge trial.”
“In January, Dr. Mukamal and his colleagues started recruiting volunteers ages 50 and older who are at high risk for heart disease; eventually there are to be 7,800 participants at 16 sites worldwide. Half will be told to abstain from alcohol. The rest, including both men and women, will be told to have one serving of alcohol a day. No other long-term trial has ever asked participants to drink, much less drink every day.”
Read the full story here.
Not everyone is an alcoholic. Some people can go on binges and then return to normal life.
And I’m all for a legitimate scientific study that will improve people’s health.
However, with so many addicts and alcoholics out there, conspiracies like this to normalize drinking as healthy can have serious consequences for those on the edge of sobriety. It gives them one more reason to keep drinking: a false belief it may be good for their health.
It’s especially disheartening that the government was behind this too, giving it the appearance of official approval.
I wish that one day this kind of big money will go towards studies to help conquer addiction and its drag on our health care system.