Thursday, July 24, 2003

in the news

A study that I co-authored made the front page of the Wisconsin State Journal yesterday, below the fold. Article reproduced below. My name not mentioned, which is just fine by me, shy attention-averse author of this weblog. I have enough trouble with the paparazzi as it is.

It was especially handy because yesterday I went to Spring Green to attend an UW honors program event that featured Sarah and Sonya, mighty WLS interns. One of the honors students there asked about the policy influence of WLS studies, and I was able to say, "Well, we were on the front page of the Wisconsin State Journal today, for a study about..." As for the study itself, I'm looking forward to when the new round of the WLS is done and we can see whether the same results hold when the respondents are 10-12 years older and we have better measurement of cognitive functioning.

Experts Throw Cold Water On Studies Touting Light Drinking
Wisconsin State Journal :: FRONT :: A1 ::Wednesday, July 23, 2003
Patricia Simms Health reporter

Middle-aged people who drink in moderation shouldn't expect enlightenment, UW-Madison researchers say.
Though a plethora of published research studies report that moderate drinkers perform better on tests than people who do not drink at all or who drink excessively, don't believe it, said UW-Madison sociology professor Robert Hauser.

"The research is deeply flawed," said Hauser, co-author of a new study that examined the relationship of drinking and cognition on people in their mid-50s. "Middle-aged people who drink in moderation should not expect any cognitive benefit from their drinking."

The other studies don't take into account how smart you were when you were young, he said. "What we found was that the seeming advantage of moderate drinking disappeared when we controlled statistically for test performance in high school," Hauser said.

"The explanation would appear to be that people who did well on tests in high school are more likely to drink in moderation as mature adults than are people who performed poorly on tests while in high school."

On the other hand, the study reported no evidence that moderate alcohol intake damages cognitive ability in middle age.

The study, published in the July issue of the journal Alcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research, was led by Dean Krahn of the William S. Middleton Memorial Veterans Hospital in Madison.

Researchers used data from the Wisconsin Longitudinal Study (WLS), which has tracked the lives and social histories of nearly 10,000 people who graduated from Wisconsin high schools in 1957.

In 1992, at age 53, study participants were given an abstract reasoning test and alcohol intake was measured.

Researchers found that men and women who drank a little did better on the abstract reasoning task than either non-drinkers or heavy drinkers.

But after adjusting for teenage intellectual performance, the apparent benefits of moderate drinking on cognition disappear, the study said.

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