Health Benefits of Drinking Alcohol

The benefits of alcohol consumption have long been known. The Bible refers to alcohol’s medicinal properties no less than 191 times. Alcohol is beneficial in controlling the following conditions: hypertension or high blood pressure, peripheral artery disease, angina pectoris, liver disease, hepatitis A, pancreatic cancer, duodenal ulcer, gallstones, kidney stones, digestive ailments, diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis, osteoporosis,   bone   fractures , hearing loss, macular degeneration, poor cognition and memory, Parkinson’s disease, Alzheimer’s disease, stress and depression, and erectile dysfunction.

Even more significantly, innumerable studies have proven beyond any doubt that alcohol consumption leads to a decrease in the rate of heart attacks and strokes. The results of studies conducted on hundreds of thousands of men and women from several countries and continents have consistently shown that alcohol consumption reduces death from heart disease and a host of other ailments.

Huh?!! So why does alcohol consumption keep getting such bad press?

Well, it’s not the alcohol that’s to blame, but the consumer of it. For these beneficial effects to take effect, the key is for the alcohol to be taken in MODERATE doses.

Ahhh!! There’s the rub.

Alcohol consumption has wondrous effects if, and only if, the consumption is MODERATE. Listen to just a minuscule portion of the findings.

* The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA) reports that moderate drinkers have the greatest longevity. Moderate drinking results in a sharp decrease in heart disease risk (40%-60%). (This is a pretty major effect considering that cardiovascular disease is the number one killer in the United States, responsible for one million deaths in America each year.)

* A study of 12,000 male physicians done in the U.K. over a 13-year period found that moderate drinkers had the lowest risk of death from ALL causes.

* The Italians did a study of 1,536 men aged 45 to 65. The study found that the moderate drinkers among them gained about 2 years of life compared to occasional and heavy drinkers.

* China also did a large-scale study of middle aged men. It too found that those who drank moderately had a nearly 20% lower mortality rate compared to men who abstained from drink.

The studies are not confined to male subjects. Alcohol does not discriminate between the sexes.

* The Harvard Nurses study of over 85,000 women reported reduced mortality among the moderate drinkers.

* Harvard researchers did a study of over 5,000 women with type 2 diabetes. The moderate drinkers among them had significantly lower heart disease rates than those who didn’t drink. In fact, the women who drank about half a glass of alcohol a day reduced their risk from coronary heart disease by more than half.

And the list goes on. The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism did an extensive review of recent research from over 20 countries and the findings were quite consistent. Moderate drinkers live longer than those who either abstain from alcohol or who drink heavily. This is largely due to a decrease in diseases such as coronary heart disease, respiratory disease, and cancer. Moderate drinkers enjoy better health than abstainers or heavy drinkers. It’s been found that abstainers have double the risk of stroke as moderate drinkers.

Okay. So what’s considered moderate drinking?

Different countries have different standards. But generally, for non-pregnant women, it’s one to two drinks a day, for men it’s two to three drinks.

Now, what constitutes a drink?

A medium glass of wine, a can of beer or a .5 ounce shot of whiskey or other spirit generally have the same amount of pure alcohol in them and would be considered as a drink or one alcoholic unit.

Many of the beneficial effects of moderate drinking reverse if a person drinks too much. The amount is a key factor but so is consistency and regularity. Five drinks in one night do not equal – and produce a totally opposite effect from – five drinks spread out over five nights.

So take heed. Moderation and consistency are key to getting the health benefits that alcohol offers.