The Health of It All....

Is Alcohol Good for You?

One of the most important questions I am asked by patients is about drinking alcohol. Clearly, we know that drinking in excess can be bad for you, but in the last few decades there has been mounting evidence that drinking in moderation is pretty good for you.

The original research was done in the early 1980s by Dr. Arthur Klatsky. As a cardiologist in California, Dr. Klatsky noticed that more of his patients with heart disease were people who didn't drink. He looked at the records of about 80,000 patients and found that people who drank alcohol were less likely to die of a heart attack than those who didn’t drink. The original data was intriguing, but since then we have a great deal of information that indicates drinking about 2 drinks per day for men and 1 per day for women can be beneficial from the standpoint of protecting against heart disease. There is data suggest that wine may be more protective against heart disease than beer or liquor. There are potentially protective antioxidants in wine, especially red wine. However, prospective population studies suggest that most any alcoholic beverage type can reduce coronary risk. The role of alcoholic beverage choice in coronary risk remains unresolved.

We’re not sure why alcohol works this way but there are some theories. It appears that moderate amounts of alcohol on a daily basis can increase the HDL cholesterol and reduce the LDL or bad cholesterol.

There is also some information that comes out when researchers look at whole populations. One study in Mediterranean countries showed that the greater the per capita wine consumption, the lower the risk of death due to heart attack.

But what is moderation? Two drinks per day for men and one per day for women on the average is the optimum amount. A "drink" is 5 ounces of wine, while the measure used in most research is 12 ounces of beer or 1.5 ounces of hard liquor. It should be noted that some people have difficulty with drinking. Alcohol can be very addictive, for some people more than others.

So the old toast, "To your health" may actually have some basis in fact. Read More "The Health of It All..." Articles