Health Benefits of Liquor and Moderate Alcohol Consumption

Health Benefits of Liquor and Moderate Alcohol Consumption

For some time, moderate consumption of wine has been acknowledged as beneficial. Red wine particularly is widely associated with reducing the chance of heart attack along with other positive effects. However, several studies have concluded that the health benefits of liquor are much the same.

Studies into the health benefits of red wine regularly center on the phenols that act as antioxidants, which promote cardiovascular health. Nonetheless, as is becoming apparent, alcohol alone is responsible for a great deal of the good to be had from moderate drinking.

One British investigation looked at the habits of twelve thousand doctors aged 48 to 78. It concluded that overall mortality rate was substantially less amongst those who consumed between sixteen and twenty-four grams of alcohol per day. Not surprisingly, as with most things, quantity is the key. Teetotalers had higher mortality rates than those who had a couple of drinks every day. Those who drank in excess had higher death rates than either group.

The benefits ran across multiple groups. Men and women both in a variety of cultural settings and geographic locations all experienced the same positive results. That is especially true in studies of coronary heart disease. Overall risk of CHD was reduced from 30-50% in groups that drank reasonable quantities of alcohol. Some of the possible reasons behind these findings were identified by those studies.

Moderate alcohol consumption increases HDL cholesterol (the good type) while it decreases thrombosis, otherwise called blood clotting, which can lead to increased risks of heart attack or stroke. It also reduces artery spasms attributable to bringing down stress. Modest drinking correlates strongly with a decrease in atherosclerosis or hardening of the arteries.

Additional studies presented other health benefits. According to the large-scale Nurses' Health Study, gallstones were less likely to occur in moderate drinkers than abstainers. The incidence of Type 2 diabetes was often found to be less in the drinkers versus the teetotalers. Almost forty percent of moderate drinkers had a lower risk of coronary heart disease.

The term moderate is used a good deal throughout these studies but exactly how much is moderate.

In the majority of reports, a 'drink' is specified in a different way for various beverages, including wine, liquor and beer. In the case of liquor and spirits, one drink is generally 1.5 ounces. Consequently two to three drinks per day is somewhere between 3 to 4.5 ounces. Given that liquor has a higher alcohol concentration, several of the benefits are realized at lower consumption, equating to approximately one or two drinks per day for men and one for women. One drink corresponds to around twelve to fourteen grams of alcohol.

The relationship between health practices as a whole and drinking has been examined extensively, as well. In more than one hundred studies reviewed by the Harvard School of Public Health all pointed to similar conclusions. The studies took account of the probability that those folks who only drank in moderation were those that also practised better health habits. Even after accounting for differing levels of diet and exercise, together with numerous other potential 'confounders', as they are called, the beneficial effects of alcohol remained.

Selection of Studies and References

The Nurses' Health Study involved 85,709 female nurses aged 34-59 for twelve years. They saw a 40% reduction in risk of coronary heart disease. Results published in the New England Journal of Medicine, 1988.

An American Cancer Society cohort reviewed 489,626 men and women aged 30-104 over a nine-year period. They enjoyed a 30-40% reduced risk of cardiovascular death. Results published in the New England Journal of Medicine, 1997.

The Physicians' Health Study followed 22,071 male physicians aged 40-84 for eleven years. They saw a 30-35% reduced risk of angina and myocardial infarction, 20-30% reduced risk of cardiovascular death. Published in the Archive of Internal Medicine, 1997.