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Wine Is Good For You! Wine Will Kill You! Why Health Headlines Don't Tell the Whole StoryWine

When it comes to health studies, it’s often difficult to discern fact from slightly-less-than fact. Time will declare one day that a study was published showing that wine is good for you. Now there may be caveats – wine is good for you in moderation; wine is good for you if you have diabetes; wine is good for you if you have brown hair, blue eyes, and were born on the 22nd day of the month – but often far-reaching health claims are made with an incomplete understanding of the corresponding research.

On the other hand, wine may not be good for you at all, as the Chief Medical Officer in the UK announced in 2016.

What can a responsible consumer of the news do in these situations? First, look at the source study itself. Was the study conducted with a cohort of 25 people, as occurs in many weight loss studies? Great – it could offer valuable information for researchers to explore further, but it probably does not provide definitive results that apply to the whole population. Did the study take into account possible confounding factors, or other diseases and attributes that might affect the outcomes? A study of heart disease and wine consumption, for instance, that fails to take into account other factors of people who drink wine moderately (perhaps they exercise more?) also has limited generalizability.

Don’t ignore the news, but think critically before accepting studies as fact – particularly if they’re telling you to stop eating chocolate.