Alcohol companies and related organisations are heavily involved in funding scientific research. In a 2020 bibliometric study, researchers found almost 13,500 examples of alcohol industry funded research – with Carlsberg coming out as the main funder.

This is the first bibliometric study of alcohol industry involvement in science. Findings are particularly illuminating on the scale, nature and breadth of alcohol industry funding of peer-reviewed research published in academic journals.

Overall, Carlsberg was by a considerable margin the most frequently appearing alcohol company in respect of both support declarations and author affiliations. This one company accounted for 87% of all support declarations and for 40% of author affiliations.

Researchers also show that there has been a marked increase in company and organization declarations both for publications of all topics and for health-related publications since 2008.

The subject areas in which alcohol industry actors (both companies and other organizations) have been most involved in are Biology (5415), Chemistry (3937) and Health (3707).

This might be just the tip of the iceberg: “…the most substantial grounds for concern about author disclosure of alcohol industry funding lies in the experience with the tobacco industry. Internal company documents made public following litigation demonstrate numerous methods of deception about funding information and other aspects of concealment.”

There has been little previous study of the extent of direct alcohol industry involvement in science. The ways in which alcohol industry actors use science to influence policy has been more extensively studied.

One key scientific area is the alleged health benefits of alcohol, some of which are biologically highly improbable. Alcohol industry actors have sponsored studies in this literature, and use any possible evidence of health benefits in efforts to influence policy. Previous research shows that studies involving authors who have received industry funding appear more likely to identify cardioprotective effects.