An analysis based on a very large number of subjects in France demonstrates, that moderate consumers of alcohol have many associated healthy lifestyle habits: lower levels of body mass index, blood glucose, heart rate, stress and depression scores; higher subjective health status, HDL-cholesterol values, levels of physical activity and social status. The authors suggest that alcohol is not related causally to any of these factors, and that the other lifestyle factors, not alcohol consumption, are the reason that moderate drinkers have less cardiovascular disease. They chose a very narrow group of citations from the literature to support this contention.
The authors ignore a large number of well-conducted prospective epidemiologic studies showing that moderate drinkers are at lower risk over time of developing certain risk factors. Further, the authors of this paper ignore an immense basic science literature that suggests that alcohol is an important factor in the development of biological risk factors, atherosclerosis, and cardiovascular disease. Further, they do not describe a number of studies that have shown specifically that moderate drinking is associated with less cardiovascular disease and diabetes among subjects who are otherwise very healthy (non-smokers, not obese, physically active, and on a healthy diet).
There is no doubt that confounding by associated lifestyle factors can play a role in the lower risk of chronic diseases among moderate drinkers, who tend to also have other healthy behaviours. However, there is now a large body of scientific evidence that indicates that alcohol is an important factor in the lower rates of such diseases; current scientific data do not support the conclusions of the authors of this paper.
Reference: Hansel B, Thomas F, Pannier B, Bean K, Kontush A, Chapman MJ, Guize L, Bruckert E. Relationship between alcohol intake, health and social status and cardiovascular risk factors in the urban Paris-Ile-De-France Cohort: is the cardioprotective action of alcohol a myth? European J Clin Nutrition, advance online publication, doi:10:1038/ejcn.2010.61.