For years there has been a back and forth regarding the health benefits of alcohol. Many years ago a study was published touting the cardiovascular health benefits of consuming small amounts of wine on a daily basis. Then, more recently, a study was released contradicting these health claims and warning against consuming any alcohol at all. So, the alcohol companies have stepped up to find out once and for all if alcohol is healthy for people. But is a study funded by the alcohol manufacturers going to lead to unbiased research? Some think that is impossible, while the alcohol companies insists that they are committed to finding out the truth.
Anheuser-Busch InBev, Heineken, Diageo, Pernod Ricard and Carlsberg are five alcohol manufacturers that have pledged a total of $67.7 million to the National Institutes of Health in order to conduct their $100 million clinical trial to determine if an alcoholic beverage a day actually prevents a heart attack. Despite the obvious conflict of interest, these companies have donated the money with no strings attached. This means that if the data proves that alcohol is not health for an individual to consume every day, they will have paid for this revelation.
However, further investigation into the other money sources behind the study show more links to the alcohol industry. The clinical trial will be conducted at Harvard University, an institution that has received $3.3 million donation dollars from the Foundation for Advancing Alcohol Responsibility. However, the foundation is made up of a group of distillers. This, combined with the fact that Harvard recently accepted a donation from Anheuser-Busch, might mean even more biased research.
And if that wasn’t enough, one of the head researchers, Dr. Eric Rimm has released information showing that he has been paid by the alcohol industry to conduct seminars in the past.
“Research shows that industry-sponsored research almost invariably favors the interests of the industry sponsor, even when investigators believe they are immune from such influence” warned Marion Nestle, a professor of nutrition and food studies at New York University.
So, while it is important to once and for all determine if alcohol consumption on a daily basis is healthy for an individual, it is also important to determine if the sources responsible for answering this question are seeking the truth, or looking to alter it.