It may be the most palatable advice you will ever get from a doctor: Have a glass of wine, a beer or a cocktail every day, and you just might prevent a heart attack and live longer.
But the mantra that moderate drinking is good for the heart has never been put to a rigorous scientific test, and new research has linked even modest alcohol consumption to increases in breast cancerand changes in the brain. That has not stopped the alcoholic beverage industry from promoting the alcohol-is-good-for-you message by supporting scientific meetings and nurturing budding researchers in the field.
Now the National Institutes of Health is starting a $100 million clinical trial to test for the first time whether a drink a day really does prevent heart attacks. And guess who is picking up most of the tab?
Five companies that are among the world’s largest alcoholic beverage manufacturers — Anheuser-Busch InBev, Heineken, Diageo, Pernod Ricard and Carlsberg — have so far pledged $67.7 million to a foundation that raises money for the National Institutes of Health, said Margaret Murray, the director of the Global Alcohol Research Program at the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, which will oversee the study.