No more coffee studies for a while

Here at InsightCity we’ve tossed around the idea of including a semi-regular section called Coffee, Alcohol or Chocolate. It essentially would just cover whatever substance of those three is the latest to blame for cancer, early death, superpowers, etc. Well, we’re calling for a moratorium on the coffee studies at least, because we want this one to be the last one. A study of half a million UK citizens has found that drinking coffee is good for you, hands-down. The study looked at a wide range of coffee factors like amount consumed, sub-types (e.g. decaf, instant,) and participants’ caffeine metabolisms. Essentially, even if you’re drinking 8+ cups of coffee a day, you’re still getting the health benefits of the world’s favorite bean soup in the form of decreased mortality. Cheers.

$100M wasted on booze

The Moderate Alcohol and Cardiovascular Health Trial (MACH15) was designed to observe the effects of moderate drinking versus being a nerd responsibly abstaining. But the National Institutes of Health has shut down the study after compromising contacts between scientists and alcohol industry executives were exposed by The New York Times. The NIH conducted its own internal investigation of the claims that scientists had courted these executives to fund the study through a nonprofit—which itself is a violation of government policy. The investigation found staffers “hid facts” from team members, apparently to frame the study in a pro-alcohol light. Talk about beer goggles. Score one for ethics in research at least.

A drink a day keeps the cardiologist away?

Bottoms up! The National Institutes of Health is kicking off a 6-year, $100M trial to test the effects of moderate drinking on heart health. Some volunteers will abstain from alcohol and others will consume one alcoholic drink daily (sorry, no binge-drinking allowed in this trial). Those in the drinking group will even get partly reimbursed for the booze. Score! A few question marks though: the study is receiving major funding from the likes of Anheuser-Busch InBev and Heineken, several researchers have had prior ties to the alcohol industry, and there is no current plan for verifying that participants are adhering to their regimen of one daily drink or no drinks at all. Consider InsightCity’s eyebrow raised…as well as our fingers crossed for a bit of data-supported, guilt-free drinking. Cheers! Let us know in the FastPollTM below if you’d consider joining this study.

Alcohol bad for hippos

The hippocampus, that is. And this InsightCity writer thought alcohol only killed off the weak brain cells. On the contrary. A longitudinal study of 550 middle-aged people showed that increases in alcohol consumption are associated with increases in hippocampal atrophy. Not only is that a pretty rad band name, but it also leads to difficulties with memory and spatial navigation. Increasing risk of structural damage begins around 14-21 units of alcohol per week for men, while current US guidelines suggest up to 24.5 units per week is safe. Additionally, contrary to everything Grandpa believed, the study found no brain benefit to drinking low levels of alcohol. Wuuut? Next, you’re going to tell me my crystal meth isn’t the cavity fighting agent I claim it to be.

1. Don’t drink, don’t smoke (pot). What do you do?

“Not homework” is the answer if you live in England and are of adolescent age. And yes, we made an Adam Ant reference. Deal with it. Researchers from the UCL Medical School in London conducted a 7-year longitudinal study to “determine the association between childhood academic ability and the onset and persistence of tobacco, alcohol and cannabis use across adolescence” in England. Their findings from 6,000 adolescents: high childhood academic performance at age 11 is associated with a reduced risk of cigarette smoking but an increased risk of drinking alcohol regularly and cannabis use. This persists into early adulthood, debunking the hypothesis that high academic ability is associated with temporary experimentation. Party on, England!