Drinking Alcohol in Moderation: Better Health & Longer Life
Well known medical authority Dean Edell, M.D., asserts that “you
would have to be living on another planet not to know that alcohol
-- in moderation -- is good for your health.” 1
But exactly how good for health is drinking in moderation? The
medical research evidence is that:
- The risk of dying in any given year is 25 percent
lower for those who consume moderate amounts of alcohol.
- The risk of morbidity and mortality from coronary heart disease
(CHD) is 40-60 lower in moderate drinkers. 3
- The risk of a heart attack among moderate drinkers with diabetes
is 52 percent lower than among nondrinkers. 4
- The risk of dying in the four years after a heart attack is
32 percent lower among those who were moderate drinkers in the
year before the attack. 5
- Moderate drinkers are over 30-40 percent less likely to develop
- Moderate drinkers have a 54% lower chance of developing dementia
than abstainers. 7
- Moderate drinking reduces the risk of stroke by about one-half.
- Women who drink in moderation have a 15% lower chance of developing
high blood pressure than teetotalers. 9
- Men who drink in moderation tend to live about two years longer
than abstainers. 10
Moderate consumption of alcohol appears to be beneficial to reducing
or preventing even more diseases and health problems:
- Angina Pectoris 11
- Bone Fractures and Osteoporosis12
- Digestive Ailments 13
- Duodenal Ulcer 14
- Erectile Dysfunction 15
- Essential Tremors 16
- Gallstones 17
- Hearing Loss 18
- Hepatitis A 19
- Kidney Stones 20
- Liver Disease 21
- Macular Degeneration (Blindness) 22
- Pancreatic Cancer 23
- Parkinson's Disease 24
- Poor Cognition and Memory 25
- Poor Physical Condition in Elderly 26
- Rheumatoid Arthritis 27
- Stress and Depression 28
- Type B Gastritis 29
The benefits of drinking in moderation begin early in life 30
and they apply to beer, wine, and liquor or distilled spirits (gin,
vodka, whiskey, tequila, rum, bourbon, etc.) Drinking any of these
alcoholic beverages heavily or abusively is associated with poor
health and reduced longevity.
Nothing on this page constitutes medical opinion
or advice. For medical diagnosis, opinion, advice or treatment consult
a qualified physician.
- 1. Edell, D. Life, Liberty,
and the Pursuit of Healthiness. NY: HarperCollins, 2004, p.488.
- 2. Alcohol has benefits,
but not or everyone. Long Beach Press-Telegraph, January 2, 2005.
- 3. Goldberg, D.M., et
al. Moderate alcohol consumption the gentle face of Janus,
Clinical Biochemistry, 1999, 32(7), 505-518.
- 4. Valmidrid, C. T., et
al. Alcohol intake and the risk of coronary heart disease mortality
in persons with older-onset diabetes mellitus. Journal of the
American Medical Association, 1999, 282(3), 239-246.
- 5. Mukamal, K. J, et
al. Prior alcohol consumption and mortality following acute
myocardial infarction. Journal of the American Medical Association,
- 6. Carlsson, S., et
al. Alcohol consumption and the incidence of type 2 diabetes:
a 20-year follow-up of the Finnish Twin Cohort Study. Diabetes
Care, 2003, 26(10), 2785-2786.
- 7. Mulkamal, K.J., et
al. Prospective study of alcohol consumption and risk of dementia
in older adults. Journal of the American Medical Association,
2003 (March 19), 289, 1405-1413.
- 8. Sacco, R. L., Elkind,
M., Boden-Albala, B., Lin, I-F., Kargman, D. E., Hauser. W. A.,
Shea, S., & Paik, M. C. The Protective Effect of Moderate Alcohol
Consumption on Ischemic Stroke, Journal of the American Medical
Association, 1999, 281, 53-60.
- 9. Thadhani, R., et
al. Prospective study of moderate alcohol consumption and risk
of hypertension in young women. Archives of Internal Medicine,
2002, 162, 569-574.
- 10. Farchi, G., et
al. Alcohol and survival in the Italian rural cohorts of the
Seven Countries Study. International Journal of Epidemiology,
2000, 29, 667-671.
- 11. Camargo, C. A., et
al. Moderate alcohol consumption and the risk for angina pectoris
or myocardial infarction in U.S. male physicians. Archives of
Internal Medicine, 1997, 126(5).
- 12. Holbrook, T., et
al. A prospective study of alcohol consumption and bone mineral
density. British Medical Journal, 1993, 306, 1506-1509.
Also see Christian, J. Moderate alcohol consumption helps preserve
reasoning skills. Paper presented at the Research Society of Alcoholism,
San Antonio, Texas, June 30, 1993. In addition to reasoning skills,
Christian also reported greater bone density and a lower rate of
death among moderate drinkers compared to abstainers and heavy drinkers;
Rapuri, P. B., et al. Alcohol intake and bone metabolism
in elderly women. American Journal of Clinical Nursing,
2000, 72, 1206-1213.
- 13. Weisse, M. I., et
al. Wine as a digestive aid: comparative antimicrobial effects
of bismuth salicylate and red and white table wine. British
Medical Journal, 1995, 311, 1457-1460; Probert, C.,
Emmett, P., and Heaton, K. Quarterly Journal of Medicine,
1995, 88, 311-315; Weisse, M., Eberly, B., and Person,
D. Wine as a digestive aid: comparative antimicrobial effects of
bismuth salicylate and red and white wine. British Medical Journal,
1995, 311, 1657-1660.
- 14. Aldoori, W. H., et
al. A prospective study of alcohol, smoking, caffeine, and
the risk of duodenal ulcer in men. Epidemiology, 1997,
8(4), 420-424; Brenner, H., et. al. Relation of
smoking and alcohol and coffee consumption to active Helicobacter
pylori infection: cross sectional study. British Medical Journal,
1997, 315, 1489-1492.
- 15. CNN Morning News.
- 16. Boecker, H., et
al. The effect of ethanol on alcoholic-responsive essential
tremor: a positrol emission tomography study. Annals of Neurology,
1996, 39, 650-658; Setting a steady course for benign essential
tremor. Johns Hopkins Medical Letter, December, 1999; On Call. Harvard
Men's Health Watch, August,1998.
- 17. LaVecchia, C., et
al. Alcohol drinking and prevalence of self-reported gallstone
disease in the 1983 Italian National Health Survey. Epidemiology,
1994, 5, 533-536; Simon, J., et al. Ascorbic acid
supplement use and the prevalence of gallbladder disease. Journal
of Clinical Epidemiology, 1998, 51(3), 257-265; MacLure,
K., et al. Weight, diet and the risk of symptomatic gallstones.
New England Journal of Medicine, 1989 (August); Moderate
drinking associated with lower risk for gallstone disease. Alcohol
Issues and Insights, 1994, 11(1); LaVecchia, C. Alcohol
in the Mediterranean diet. International Journal for Vitamin
and Nutrition Research, 1995, 65(1), 71-72; Attili,
A., et al. Diet and gallstones in Italy: the cross-sectional
MICOL results; Sahi, T, et al. Body mass index, cigarette
smoking and other characteristics as predictors of self-reported
physician-diagnosed gallbladder disease in male college alumni.
American Journal of Epidemiology, 1998, 147, 644-651;
Leitzmann, M, et al. Prospective study of alcohol consumption
patterns in relation to symptomatic gallstone disease in men. Alcohol:
Clinical and Experimental Research, 1999, 23, 835-841.
- 18. Popelka, M.M., et
al. Moderate alcohol consumption and hearing loss: a protective
effect. Journal of the American Geriatric Society, 2000,
- 19. Desenclos, J-C., et
al. The protective effect of alcohol on the occurrence of epidemic
oyster borne hepatitis A. Epidemiology, 1994, 5,
- 20. Curhan, G. C., et
al. Prospective study of beverage use and the risk of kidney
stones. American Journal of Epidemiology, 1996, 143(3),
240-247; Soucie, M. J., et al. Relation between geographic
variability in kidney stones prevalence and risk factors for stones.
American Journal of Epidemiology, 1996, 143(3),
487-494; Curhan, G., et al. Beverage use and risk for kidney
stones in women. Annals of Internal Medicine, 1998, 128(7),
534-540; Hirvonen, T., et al. Nutrient intake and use of
beverage and the risk of kidney stones among male smokers. American
Journal of Epidemiology, 1999, 150, 187-194.
- 21. Reuters, 11-8-99.
- 22. Obisean, T., et.
al. Moderate wine consumption is associated with decreasing
odds of developing age-related macular degeneration in NHANSES-1.
Journal of the American Geriatrics Society, 1998, 46,
- 23. Ahlgren, J. D., et
al. Epidemiology and risk factors in pancreatic cancer. Seminars
in Oncology, 1996, 23(2), 241-250.
- 24. Hellenbrand, W.,
et al. Diet and Parkinson's disease I: A possible role for
the past intake of specific foods and food groups. Neurology,
1996, 306, 1,506-1,509.
- 25. Christian, J. C.,
et al. Self-reported alcohol intake and cognition in aging
twins. Journal of Studies on Alcohol, 1995, 56, 414-416; Dufouil,
C. Sex differences in the association between alcohol consumption
and cognitive performance. American Journal of Epidemiology, 1997,
146 (5), 405-412; Elias, P., et al. Alcohol consumption and cognitive
performance in the Framingham Heart Study. American Journal
of Epidemiology, 1999, 150(6), 550-58 9.
- 26. Nelson, H., et
al. Smoking, alcohol and neuromuscular and physical function
of older women. Journal of the American Medical Association,
1994, 272(23), 1825-1831.
- 27. Voight, L., et
al. Smoking, obesity, alcohol consumption and the risk of rheumatoid
arthritis. Epidemiology, 1994, 5, 525-532.
- 28. Lipton, R. I. The
effect of moderate alcohol use on the relationship between stress
and depression. American Journal of Public Health, 1994,
84(12), 1913-1917; Baum-Baicker, C. The psychological benefits
of moderate alcohol consumption: a review of the literature. Drug
and Alcohol Dependence, 15, 1985; Kushner, M., et
al. The effects of alcohol consumption on laboratory-induced
panic and state anxiety. Archives of General Psychiatry,
1996, 53, 264-270.
- 29. Brenner, H., et.
al. Relation of smoking and alcohol and coffee consumption
to active Helicobacter pylori infection: cross sectional study. British
Medical Journal, 1997, 315, 1389-1492.
- 30. Power, C., et
al. U-shaped relation for alcohol consumption and health in
early adulthood and implications for mortality. The Lancet,
1998, 352, 9131.
- Edell, Dean. Eat, Drink & be Merry. NY: Harper Collins,
- Ellison, R. C. Does Moderate Alcohol Consumption Prolong Life?
New York: American Council on Science and Health, 1993
- Ford, Gene. The Science of Healthy Drinking. San Francisco,
CA: Wine Appreciation Guild, 2004.
- Ford, Gene. The Benefits of Moderate Drinking. San Francisco,
CA: Wine Appreciation Guild, 1988.
- Ford, Gene. The French Paradox and Drinking for Health.
San Francisco, CA; Wine Appreciation Guild, 1988.
- Fox, B. To Your Health: the Healing Power of Alcohol.
Diane Publishing, 2000.
- Gilson, C. and Bennett, V. Alcohol and Women: Creating a Safer
Lifestyle. Irving, TX: Fusion Press, 2001.
- MacDonald, E. (Ed.) Health Issues Related to Alcohol Consumption.
Oxford, UK: Blackwell Science, 1999.
- Peele, S., and Grant, M. Alcohol and Pleasure: A Health Perspective.
Philadelphia, PA: Brunner/Mazel, 1999.
- Perdue, L., and Shoemaker, W. The French Paradox and Beyond.
Sonoma, CA: Renaissance Publishing, 1992. P. 63.
- Willett, W. C. with the assistance of others. Eat, Drink, and
be Healthy: The Harvard Medical School Guide to Healthy Eating.
New York: Simon & Schuster, 2001, p. 17. The alternative US
Department of Agriculture food pyramid was first developed before
much of our current nutritional information was available, reflects
the strong influence of agricultural producers, and is highly over-simplified.
The Harvard food Pyramid is free of all those shortcomings.