For the health-conscious, conflicting studies reporting the supposed benefi ts of different foods must create confusion, if not hypertension. Now researchers have taken
a second look at 54 studies that seemingly document the role of moderate drinking in staving off death from heart disease. They found that most of the investigations lumped nondrinkers with former drinkers, who might have stopped drinking for health reasons and
pulled down the average health of that group. Of seven studies that split the two categories, none found a protective effect for alcohol. More telling, when the team regrouped the other published data, combining drinkers and former drinkers, the positive effects evaporated. Paradoxically, physiological data suggest drinking is probably still somewhat helpful, remarks Kaye Fillmore of the University of California, San Francisco, co-author of the May Addiction Research and Theory report. To bear that out, future analyses would have to disentangle drinking history, she says.