Cookies on this website

We use cookies to ensure that we give you the best experience on our website. If you click 'Accept all cookies' we'll assume that you are happy to receive all cookies and you won't see this message again. If you click 'Reject all non-essential cookies' only necessary cookies providing core functionality such as security, network management, and accessibility will be enabled. Click 'Find out more' for information on how to change your cookie settings.

We respond to criticisms of Mendelian randomization (MR) by Mukamal, Stampfer and Rimm (MSR). MSR consider that MR is receiving too much attention and should be renamed. We explain how MR links to Mendel's laws, the origin of the name and our lack of concern regarding nomenclature. We address MSR's substantive points regarding MR of alcohol and cardiovascular disease, an issue on which they dispute the MR findings. We demonstrate that their strictures with respect to population stratification, confounding, weak instrument bias, pleiotropy and confounding have been addressed, and summarise how the field has advanced in relation to the issues they raise. We agree with MSR that "the hard problem of conducting high-quality, reproducible epidemiology" should be addressed by epidemiologists. However we see more evidence of confrontation of this issue within MR, as opposed to conventional observational epidemiology, within which the same methods that have demonstrably failed in the past are simply rolled out into new areas, leaving their previous failures unexamined.

Original publication




Journal article


Eur J Epidemiol

Publication Date



Alcohol, Causal inference, Genetic epidemiology, Mendelian randomization, Nutritional epidemiology