The dose matters
Q: Did you see that beer is healthy now?
A: Well, not exactly
Q: But there’s research and science and everything. Beer has fewer calories than wine.
A: Again, only up to a point.
Q: What? 43 isn’t less than 84 any more?
A: Beer has fewer calories per millilitre, so if you have 1/4 of a 425ml glass of beer, you get fewer calories than in 100ml of wine. In my experience, though, most people drink beer in larger units than 1/4 glass. The calorie content per standard drink is very similar (slightly higher for beer, especially good beer).
Q: Wouldn’t you expect journalists to know a lot about how people usually drink alcohol?
A: That’s certainly the stereotype, but perhaps it’s out of date.
Q: But what about the micronutrients?
A: The press release mentions silicon. That’s really a sign of desperation. There isn’t complete consensus that silicon even does anything vital in humans, let alone that anyone is deficient in it.
Q: So where was this research published?
A: One of the websites of the British Beer and Pub Association
Q: So, not exactly indepedent, peer-reviewed science?
A: Not as such, no.
Thomas Lumley (@tslumley) is Professor of Biostatistics at the University of Auckland. His research interests include semiparametric models, survey sampling, statistical computing, foundations of statistics, and whatever methodological problems his medical collaborators come up with. See all posts by Thomas Lumley »