Moderate Alcohol Consumption Could Provide Health Benefits

Although studies have shown that moderate alcohol consumption could provide health benefits, researchers from the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA) conclude that those benefits vary widely depending on a person’s age, sex, genes and other factors, USA Today reported Sept. 26.

"Whereas alcoholic drinks may be standardized, drinkers are not," the researchers concluded in a study released this summer.

For example, NIAAA researchers said that while a drink or two of wine a day may benefit a 65-year-old man with high cholesterol, it may offer no value to a 22-year-old.

The study acknowledged alcohol’s benefits in reducing cardiovascular disease. According to the research, if all current drinkers stopped consuming alcohol, there would be 80,000 additional deaths a year in the United States.

However, Lorraine Gunzerath, one of the study’s authors, questioned whether alcohol is the contributing factor, or whether moderate drinkers are generally more health-conscious, while non-drinkers are poorer and eat fewer vegetables.

In addition, Gunzerath said that drinking patterns are just as important as total consumption. While drinking small amounts of alcohol every day extends the benefits, bingeing poses a number of risks.

The research team concluded that people should consult with their doctors to determine whether drinking would be beneficial for them.