Crystal Light + grain alcohol = most successful clinical trial recruiting ever
    By Becky Jungbauer | May 6th 2009 08:57 AM | 4 comments | Print | E-mail | Track Comments
    About Becky

    A scientist and journalist by training, I enjoy all things science, especially science-related humor. My column title is a throwback to Jane


    View Becky's Profile
    I don't qualify for the original exploratory study - I'm not 55+ or at high risk for heart disease - but I'm crossing my fingers that the initial results are promising so they go ahead with a planned larger study!

    Pharmaceutical companies have said that recruiting for clinical trials is difficult, but according to the Boston Globe, "there's no shortage of people interested in participating" in a study conducted by a researcher at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center evaluating whether a daily dose of alcohol can help prevent heart disease.

    There have been studies conducted on this question, but they haven't been rigorous or definitive, according to the Wall Street Journal health blog.

    In Kenneth Mukamal's study (financed by the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism), 40 patients 55 and older at risk for heart disease will be randomized to either Crystal Light (lemonade or raspberry lemonade) plus a small amount of grain alcohol (diluted to about 10%) or just Crystal Light and will be followed for six months. At baseline and after six months, according to, researchers will measure "several standard and novel cardiovascular risk markers in the blood and will perform magnetic resonance imaging to measure atherosclerosis of the aorta."

    The Boston Globe reporter, Stephen Smith, does a wonderful job capturing why we need a study like this: "[The] public often feels whipsawed. One week, alcohol's good for you. The next, it's bad for you."

    So, all joking aside, I think this is a great idea. Should I drink a glass of wine per day, or will it give me cancer? What about wine versus beer versus liquor? How much is too much? How does it vary by age, gender and maybe even ethnicity? This is definitely one study I'm excited to read about in mid-2010, when the researchers estimate they'll have results.


    Crystal Light (lemonade or raspberry lemonade) plus a small amount of grain alcohol (diluted to about 10%)
    And people are eager to participate? Ugh! (I'm assuming the study requires the participants to not drink any other alcohol during the study.)

    I've been doing my own study - the sample size of one is a little small, but the drinks are much better. I'll let you know the results in about 30 years.
    Becky Jungbauer
    I believe they're asking participants to abstain from any other form of alcohol, yes. Can't wait to hear about the results of your study! :)

    "Want a glass of wine with dinner?" "No thanks, this jug of grain alcohol and lemonade is doing the trick." (And I wonder what Crystal Light is getting out of this deal.)
    Alcohol is the best ever excuse to do scientific research.  You can study yeast as biology.  You can study the chemistry of sugars, alcohol and CO2 production.  The physics and engineering of a distillation apparatus can be fun.  Then there is the sociology of groups to be studied as they take part in an experiment on the effects of intoxication on the clarity of communication.  The only problem I ever found with such studies is that in the morning, after emptying a whole demijohn of sherry, the insightful notes which are going to revolutionise science turn out to be nothing more than badly scribbled rude limericks.
    Becky Jungbauer
    It's an excellent excuse to do scientific research, and an excellent fallback excuse for a broad range of behaviors like not smacking guys who use totally cheesy pickup lines.