Health News That Is Something To Cheer About!

by DavalosMcCormack on September 12, 2008

Now, it’s no secret that I like my pint. I think a glass or two of beer at the end of the day is the perfect way to unwind and relax. So I’m the first to admit that I have a bias towards studies that find drinking alcohol has health benefits. Fortunately, there’s so many of these studies that no one could ever accuse me of making them up.

This latest piece of research comes from those clever folks at Harvard University. They followed more than 8,800 non-smoking men for 16 years (whenever I read something like that in a study my first thought is “didn’t any of those men notice they were being followed?” – but I digress). The men were non-smoking, none were overweight, and all ate a healthy diet and exercised regularly. So, by most standards these were pretty healthy chaps.

At the end of the study they found that men who drank one-half to two drinks a day – and that included beer, wine or hard liquor – were up to 60 percent less likely to have had a heart attack than men who didn’t drink at all.

My first thought when reading this was “whoopee”. My second thought was “who drinks only half a drink, what’s wrong with the rest of it?” But each to their own. The important thing is that the researchers found such a strong protective benefit from alcohol.

Now that would be interesting but not really conclusive if it were the only one that found that link. Happily, it’s not.

For instance, a recent British study found that drinking moderately (as well as exercising regularly, eating a healthy diet and not smoking) added 14 years to life for both men and women.

And Danish researchers recently reported that combining regular exercise and moderate drinking can have a protective benefit for the heart.

All great news eh!

But the key word is moderation. Some studies found that those protective benefits started to wane the more a person drank. Others found that more than one drink a day slightly increases a woman’s risk for breast cancer.

According to the Mayo Clinic’s newsletter, moderate drinking is defined as two drinks a day if you are a man who is younger than 65; or one drink a day if you are a woman of any age, or a man who is 66 and older. And a drink is defined as 12 ounces of beer, 5 ounces of wine, or 1.5 ounces of 80-proof distilled spirits.

Those are averages of course. Me, I know that there are lots of people out there who don’t drink, so I’m taking up the slack for them. It’s the least I can do. And it’s a lovely thought to carry with you into the weekend.

Cheers!

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