This graph will make you feel better about that one glass of wine health warning story


So youve probably seen – how could you have missed? – the story today about how drinking a glass of wine (or pint of beer) will shave 30 minutes off your life.

What the stories dont tell you is the most dangerous thing you can do is … not drink at all.

Re those 'drinking too much' headlines, this is utterly brilliant. What the news stories don't tell you is that the most dangerous correlation (it's NOT a casual link) is with not drinking at all. Look to the left of both graphs.

— Jay Rayner (@jayrayner1) April 13, 2018

absurd headline, given figure from study appendix showing massively increased risk for non-drinkers (for whatever reason) (thanks to @statsguyuk)

— David Spiegelhalter (@d_spiegel) April 13, 2018

And heres that graph.

On the left are ex-drinkers and non-drinkers, and heavy drinkers on the right.

And the higher you are, the higher the hazard ratio.

So while its bad if youre a heavy drinker, its even worse if youre a non-drinker, and worse if youre an ex-drinker.

We should say at this point, were not a doctor. But this guy seems to know what hes talking about.

OK, Ive read the paper. Actually, I dont think it is all that inconsistent with previous research. The way the results have been spun for the media just make it sound like it is.

— Adam Jacobs (@statsguyuk) April 13, 2018

The first thing to note is that theyre not estimating the risks of drinking compared with not drinking. Theyre estimating the risks of drinking various levels compared with drinking small amounts

— Adam Jacobs (@statsguyuk) April 13, 2018

And even when they do that, they see a statistically significant increase in the risk of overall mortality only at 200 g/week (25 units/week) or higher

— Adam Jacobs (@statsguyuk) April 13, 2018

So although the 200 g/week level has higher mortality than those who drink < 100 g/week, its still significantly lower mortality than non-drinkers

— Adam Jacobs (@statsguyuk) April 13, 2018

Drinking too much is bad for you, but you probably need to be drinking at least 25 units a week before that starts to kick in.


— Adam Jacobs (@statsguyuk) April 13, 2018

Conclusion – everything in moderation, people!

Leave a Reply