What do we know about alcohol and health? Moderate drinkers tend to have better health than either abstainers or heavy drinkers. They have fewer heart attacks and strokes. They’re also less likely to have many other diseases. Beer, wine and spirits appear to be equally good for health. And for longevity.
- General Health
- Heart Health
- Alzheimer’s & Dementia
- Enlarged Prostate (BPH)
- Other Diseases
I. Some Background on Alcohol and Health.
People have used alcohol for medication throughout history. The Old and New Testaments mention its medicinal value 191 times.1 By 1904 there was medical evidence that moderate drinking reduced heart attack risk.2 And the evidence of health benefits of moderate drinking continues to grow.
Moderate drinking tends to reduce cardiovascular disease. The reduction in coronary artery disease is very high.4 The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism reports that such drinking is very good for heart health. It leads to a 40% to 60% drop in heart disease.5 Important, cardiovascular disease is the leading cause of death in the US. In fact, it kills about one million Americans each year.6
The health benefits of moderate drinking have long been studied. The head of the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism explained. Numerous well-designed studies show that moderate drinkers have improved cardiovascular health. Similarly, the American Heart Association made an important observation. “The lowest mortality occurs in those who consume one or two drinks per day.”7
The World Health Organization’s conclusion is clear. It said there could no longer be doubt that moderate drinking reduces death from heart disease.8 But drinking alcohol in moderation has many other benefits.
Why drink to reduce the risk of heart disease? Wouldn’t eating a good diet, exercising, and losing weight do the same thing?
No, it wouldn’t. Alcohol is more effective than most other lifestyle changes for health. The average person would need to follow a very strict low-fat diet. They would need to exercise vigorously on a regular basis, and eliminate salt from the diet. And they would also need to lose a substantial amount of weight and probably begin medication. All this to lower cholesterol by 30 points or blood pressure by 20 points.
Yet alcohol can have a greater impact on heart disease than even these hard-won improvements. Only stopping smoking is more effective. Also, adding alcohol to a healthful diet is more effective than just following the diet alone.9
II. Alcohol and Health: Longevity.
Drinking in moderation promotes longer life than either abstaining or drinking heavily.
- The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism found that the lowest death rate from all causes occurs at the level of one to two drinks each day.10
- Drinking alcohol in moderation (1-2 drinks per day for women and 2-4 for men) reduced death significantly. This, according to analysis of 34 studies of alcohol and death among 1,015,835 persons.11
- Analysts reviewed all major heart disease studies. They found a U-shaped curve. “Moderate consumers have a reduced total mortality compared with total non-consumers and heavy consumers.”12
- A Harvard study looked at the risk of death from all causes. Among men who drank moderately, it was 21 to 28% lower in comparison to abstainers.13
- Doctors conducted a large study of middle-aged men in China. Those who drank moderately had a nearly 20% lower risk of death than abstainers.14
- Epidemiologists studied over 85,000 women. Moderate drinkers had a lower risk of death.15
- British analysts studied 12,000 men. Moderate drinkers had the lowest risk of death.16
- Researchers followed about 88,000 people for ten years. Moderate drinkers were 27% less likely to die during the period. That was in comparison to either abstainers or heay drinkers.17
- Physicians made a 12-year study of over 200,000 men. Moderate drinkers were less likely to die during the period. That’s in comparison to abstainers.18
- Investigators studied over 40,000 people. Moderate drinkers were much less likely to die than abstainers.19
- Analysists followed 89,299 men for over five and one-half years. Moderate drinkers tended to live longer than both abstainers and heavy drinkers.20
- Italian doctors studied 1,536 men aged 45-65. The men gained about two years of life by drinking in moderation. This was in comparison to occasional and heavy drinkers.21
- Clinicians followed 2,487 adults aged 70-79 years for a mean of over five and one-half years. The death rate was much lower in light to moderate drinkers. That’s in comparison to abstainers or occasional drinkers.22
- In a large study, MDs followed older persons over time. Drinkers had a much lower risk of dying than non-drinkers.23
- In another large study, doctors found that moderate drinkers lived much longer than abstainers.24
- A Danish study of about 12,000 people followed them for over 20 years. Abstaining increased the risk of death.25
- Epidemiologists followed nearly 3,000 Australians for 14 years. Moderate drinkers were less likely to die during the study.26
- Researchers in China studied middle-aged men. Two drinks per day led to a 19% drop in risk of death.27
- Alcohol prevents more deaths than its abuse causes in the UK. This, from researcher at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine.28
- Scientists at the University of London analyzed the data for England and Wales. Moderate drinking of alcohol saves more lives than abusing it causes. If everyone abstained, death rates would be much higher.29
- The Cancer Council of New South Wales studied the data in Australia. [T]here is a net saving of lives due to the protective effect of low levels of consumption on cardiovascular disease.”30
For more on alcohol and longevity visit these.
For more links on alcohol and longevity, visit Longevity
III. Alcohol and Health: General Health.
Drinking alcohol in moderation promotes better health than either abstaining or drinking heavily.
- Researchers conducted a nation-wide survey in the U.S. Daily moderate drinkers had many fewer acute hospitalizations.31
- A nine-year study found moderate drinking led to the best health.32
- Doctors studied nearly 10,000 people at age 23 and again at age 33. Moderate drinkers had better general health. They also had fewer long-term illnesses. That’s in comparison to abstainers and heavy drinkers.33
- Physicians in Spain studied nearly 20,000 adults. Moderate drinkers had better overall health than non-drinkers.34
Nation-Wide Canadian Study
- Researchers made a nation-wide study in Canadia. Moderate daily drinkers had 15% less disability than the general population.35
- A Dutch study looked at moderate drinkers under stress. They were less likely to be absent from work.36
- Doctors studied 3,803 persons age 18 to 101. They found lifelong abstainers to be consistently less healthy than moderate drinkers. That included both physical and mental health.37
- A review of the research reported that moderate drinking reduces the risk of many diseases. They include duodenal ulcer, gallstones, entric infections, rheumatoid arthritis, osteoporosis, and type 2 diabetes. In comparison to abstainers, moderate drinkers had better exhibit improved mental health. They had less stress and depression, lower abstenteeism from work, and decreased dementia (including Alzheimer’s disease).39
- Doctors followed about 2,500 people aged 65 and older regularly for about eight years. Those who drank and exercised regularly had fewer difficulties with their daily activities and physical functioning.40
For more on alcohol and general health visit these.
Should Older People Drink Less or More Alcohol.
For more links, visit Health.
IV. Alcohol and Health: Heart Health.
- Research has shown a strong connection between moderate drinking and lower risk of cardiovascular disease in general. And of coronary artery disease in particular.41
- Epidemiologists made a study in seven European countries. Those who had a daily drink had a much better arterial elasticity than abstainers. This is a strong sign of heart health. They also had better pulse rates than abstainers.
- Doctors studied 1,795 persons. “[T]he risk of extensive coronary calcification was 50% lower in individuals who consumed one to two alcoholic drinks per day.” That’s in comparison to nondrinkers.46
- Researchers reported that moderate drinkers havebetter endothelial function. This promotes better heart health. It lowers risk of atherosclerosis and cardiovascular disease.47
- Statisticians analyzed over 3,000 persons. Abstainers had a greater risk of high levels of CRP and IL-6 than moderate drinkers. Both are predictors of heart attack.48
A. Moderate Drinkers Less Likely to Suffer Coronary Heart Disease and Heart Attacks than Abstainers or Heavy Drinkers.
- A National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism study reviewed the research. They were from at least 20 countries. They showed a 20- to 40-percent lower coronary heart disease (CHD) risk among drinkers compared to nondrinkers. Its conclusion was clear. Moderate drinking causes lower risk of CHD.49
- Harvard researchers have identified the moderate consumption of alcohol as a proven way to reduce coronary heart disease risk.50
- Doctors studied 18,455 men. Some men originally had one drink or less per week. Some of those then increased consumption up to six drinks per week. They had a 29% reduction in CVD risk compared to those who did not increase their drinking. Men originally having 1-6 drinks per week who increased their drinking moderately had an extra 15% decrease in risk.51
- Analysts studied over 44,000 men. Moderate drinkers had a 37% lower risk of coronary disease.52
- British doctors studied a large number of of women . Moderate driners had lower levels of cardiovascular risk factors.53
- Investigators studied over 5,000 women with type 2 diabetes. Coronary heart disease risk was much lower among moderate drinkers than abstainers. Those who drank more than about one-third glass a day had a reduced risk of CHD by over half.54
- Epidemiologists analyzed nearly 88,000 men. Drinking reduced risk of coronary heart disease. This was among both diabetics and non-diabetics. For diabetics, weekly drinking reduced CHD risk by 33%. Daily drinking reduced it by 58%. For non-diabetics, weekly weekly reduced risk by 18%. Daily drinking reduced it by 39%.55
- A study in JAMA examined light to moderate type 2 diabetic drinkers. Their risk of coronary heart disease was lower by as much as 80%. That’s in comparison to abstainers.56
- Investigators conducted a large study. They found a 49% reduction in coronary heart disease among men who drank in moderation.57
- Harvard researchers found that having one or two drinks a day is beneficial. It corresponds to a redued risk of about 20-40%. The drinks could be beer, wine or spirits (liquor).58
- Researchers from six countries reported large reductions in death among moderate drinkers. Heart disease and total death rates were about one half or less in comparison to non-drinkers.59
- Doctors followed over 6,000 persons for six to ten years. They found “when consumed in moderation, alcohol appears to protect against congestive heart failure.”60
- Physicians studied men with high blood pressure. Those who averaged one to six drinks per week had a 39% lower risk of death from cardiovascular causes. Those who had one or two drinks each day had 44% less risk. Both were in comparison to abstainers.69
- The American Heart Association concludes that the “Consumption of one or two drinks per day is associated with a [CHD] reduction in risk of approximately 30% to 50%.”61
- After his analysis of the research, Dr. David Whitten reported his conclusion. Having one or two drinks a day dramatically reduces the chance of cardiac death. He said “We don’t have any drugs that are as good as alcohol.”62
- Dr. Curtis Ellison wrote that “abstinence from alcohol is a major risk factor for coronary heart disease.”63
B. Alcohol Increases the Survivability of Heart Attacks.
Heart attack is the common name for acute myocardial infarction (AMI).
- Moderate drinking throughout the year before a heart attack reduces the risk of dying. Moderate drinkers had the lowest death rate. It’s 32% lower in comparison to abstainers.64
- Men who have two to four drinks after a heart attack are less likely to have a second one. That’s in comparison to abstainers. That’s what a study of 353 male heart attack survivors found. Men who had an average of two drinks per day were 59% less likely to have another heart attack. Those who drank an average of four drinks per day were 52% less likely, in comparison to abstainers.65
- University of Missouri coronary specialists completed a study of heart health. Moderate drinking reduced the damage to effected tissue following a heart attack.66
- Epidemiologists made a five-year study of over 85,000 men. All had suffered previous heart attacks. Moderate drinkers showed a large drop in death rate in comparison to abstainers.67
C. Alcohol Abstainers Who Begin Drinking Reduce Their Risk of Cardiovascular Disease.
A ten-year study analyzed 7,697 non-drinkers. During that time 6% began drinking in moderation. After four years, new moderate drinkers had a 38% lower risk of cardiovascular disease than those who continued abstaining. Even after adjusting for physical activity, Body Mass Index (BMI), demographic and cardiac risk factors, this difference persisted.
This study is important. Alcohol itself causes the reduced risk of cardiovascular disease among moderate drinkers. It’s not because of any differences in lifestyle, genetics, or other factors.68
D. Frequent Drinkers Enjoy Greater Heart-Health Benefits.
Doctors studied nearly 88,000 men. Drinkers had lower risk of coronary heart disease. For diabetics, weekly drinking reduced CHD risk by 33%. Daily drinking reduced the risk by 58%.. For non-diabetics, weekly drinking reduced risk by 18%. Daily consumption reduced the risk by 39%.70
E. Alcohol vs. Exercising.
Researchers studied about 12,000 Danes for over 20 years. These are the results.
People who both drank moderately and exercised had the lowest risk of fatal heart disease . They had a 50% reduced risk in comparison to non-drinkers who didn’t exercise.
Those who abstained from alcohol but exercised had a higher risk. And those who drank in moderation but didn’t exercise also had a higher risk. In both cases the risk of heart disease dropped about 30% in comparison to abstaining non-exercisers.
People who neither drank nor exercised had the highest risk.. Their risk of dying from heart disease was twice as high as those who drank moderately and exercised.
Moderate drinking and exercise are cumulative in their positive effects. Doing one is better than nothing. But doing both is the best of all. It greatly lowers the risk of death from heart attack. The same is also true for all-cause mortality.72
F. How Alcohol Promotes Good Heart Health.
Moderate drinking promotes good heart health in a number of ways. They include these.
Alcohol improves blood lipid profile. It73
Increases HDL (“good”) cholesterol.74
Decreases LDL (“bad”) cholesterol.75
Improves cholesterol particle size.76
Alcohol decreases thrombosis (blood clotting). It
Reduces platelet aggregation.77
Reduces fibrinogen. (A blood clotter.)78
Increases fibrinolysis. (The process by which clots dissolve).79
Alcohol acts in other ways. It80
Reduces coronary artery spasm in response to stress.
Increases coronary blood flow.81
Reduces blood pressure.82
Reduces blood insulin level.83
Increases estrogen levels.84
For more on alcohol and heart health visit these.
For many more links on alcohol and health of heart, visit Heart.
American Heart Assn. American Heart Association Your Heart… Complete Guide to Heart Health. NY: Pocket Books, 2011.
Ascheim, R., et al. Heart Health. Your Questions Answered. London: DK, 2009.
Chambers, R. Boost Your Heart Health. NY: Perigee, 2007.
Crocker, B. Betty Crocker Cookbook. Heart Health Edition. Hoboken: Wiley, 2008.
Gillinov, M. and Nissen, S. Heart 411. The only Guide to Heart Health You’ll Ever Need. NY: Crown, 2012.
Jackson, G. Heart Health. London: Class, 2009.
V. Alcohol and Health: Strokes.
Drinking alcohol in moderation reduces the risk of having strokes.
- Reviewers analyzed the results of of 26 research studies. People who dad two drinks per day had a reduced risk of ischemic stroke.85
- The American Stroke Association reports having up to two alcoholic drinks daily reduces stroke risk by about half.”86
- MDs studied over 22,000 men. Light and moderate drinking greatly reduces the risk of stroke.87
- A study in JAMA found having one or two drinks daily reduces the risk of stroke by about half.88
- Research has found that moderate drinking raises HDL (“good” cholesterol) levels. This reduces stroke risk.89
- A study in the American Heart Association’s journal found abstainers’ risk of stroke double that of moderate drinkers.90
- The American Heart Association also reports that moderate drinkers tend to have large drops in stroke risk. This is among both men and women. And regardless of age or race.91
- A Spanish study examined 944 adults. Up to two drinks per day reduced the risk of strokes by 42%.94
Abstainers Have Much Higher Risk of Stroke than Drinkers92
For more on alcohol and strokes visit these.
Popular resources on alcohol and strokes.
Marler, J. Stroke for Dummies. Hoboken,: Wiley, 2005.
Nat Insti Neuro Disorders and Stroke. Preventing Stroke. Bethesda: The Institute, 2011.
Spence, J. How to Prevent Your Stroke. Nashville: Vanderbilt U Press, 2006.
Stein, J. et al. Life after Stroke. The Guide to Recovering Your Helath and Preventing another Stroke. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins U Press, 2006.
Stein, J. Stroke and the Family. Cambridge: Harvard U Press, 2004.
VI. Alcohol and Health: Diabetes.
Drinking alcohol in moderation reduces the risk of type 2 (adult-onset) diabetes.
- Researchers examined the results of 15 studies on diabetes. Moderate drinkers were less likely to have type 2 diabetes than abstainers. Abstainers and heavy drinkers had equally high risk. The studies were in seven countries. They followed 369,862 persons for an average of 12 years. Moderate drinkers were 30% less likely to develop type 2 diabetes. That’s in comparison to abstainers or heavy drinkers. (Moderate drinkers had up to four drinks per day. That included women.) Drinking frequently (such as daily) led to the most benefit.95
- Analysts examined 13 studies. “The results of these studies are consistent with regard to moderate alcohol consumption. They indicate a protective effect in the order of 30%.” There was no evidence that high consumption of alcohol increased risk of diabetes.96
- Reviewers analyzed the findings of 32 studies. In comparison to abstaining, having one to three daily drinks is healthful. Such drinkers have a 33% to 56% lower incidence of diabetes. And a 34% to 55% lower incidence of diabetes-related coronary heart disease.97
- Researchers analyzed the resultsof 20 cohort studies. They found a U-shaped pattern between alcohol consumption and risk of type 2 diabetes. The researchers conclusion supported earlier research.”[M]oderate alcohol consumption is protective for type 2 diabetes in men and women.”98
- The American Diabetes Association has drawn an important conclusion. Diabetic light-to-moderate drinkers have a decreased risk of heart disease.”99
- A Finnish study analyzed almost 23,000 pairs of Finnish twins. Moderate drinkers had half the risk of developing diabetes compared to those who drank less.100 lEpidemiologists studied 85,051 women. The risk of diabetes decreased as drinking increased. Compared with non-drinkers, those who had one-third to one drink per day had a 20% reduction in risk. Those who had over one drink per day had a 40% reduced risk of developing diabetes.101
- A study of almost 21,000 male physicians tracked themfor over 12 years was. Men who were light to moderate drinkers had a lower risk of diabetes.102
- MDs followed 8,663 men for as long as 25 years. The risk of diabetes was much lower among moderate drinkers. That’s in comparison to either abstainers or heavy drinkers. These findings persisted after adjusting for other risk factors.103
- A Harvard study involving about 110,000 women age 25 to 42 continued over ten years. Reduced risk of about 60% occurred among those who drank between 1/2 and two drinks daily compared with abstainers. Reduced risk was less for those who drank less.104
- A study in The Netherlands tracked women age 40-70 for an average of over six years. Moderate alcohol drinkers had much lower risk of diabetes.105
- Research in Italy found that alcohol improved the action of insulin in diabetics. It also improved fatty acid levels.106
- A study of 5,221 men in Britain followed them for almost 17 years. The risk of diabetes was lowest for light and moderate drinkers.107
- And the list of research evidence about the positive effects of moderate drinking on diabetes continues.108
For more on alcohol and diabetes visit these.
Risk of Metabolic Syndrome Reduced by Drinking Alcohol. (Metabolic syndrome can cause diabetes.)
Popular Resources on alcohol and diabetes.
Levine, M. Diabetes. Mankato, MN: Amicus, 2015.
Metcalf, T. and Metcalf, G. Diabetes. Juv reader. Detroit: Thomson/Gale, 2008. (Juvenile readers.)
Stahura, B. Diabetes. Detroit: Lucent, 2009.
Yuwiler, J. Diabetes. San Diego: ReferencePoint, 2010.
VII. Alcohol and Health: Alzheimer’s & other Dementia.
Drinking alcohol in moderation reduces the risk of dementia.
- A study in France looked at moderate drinkers. They had a 75% lower risk of Alzheimer’s Disease. And an 80% lower risk of senile dementia than abstainers.109
- Investigators studied 7,460 women age 65 and older. Those who had up to three drinks per day had much better cognitive function scores than non-drinkers. Tested was concentration, memory, abstract reasoning, and language. They controlled for possible confounders.110
- Researchers in Australia studied 7,485 people age 20 to 64. Moderate drinkers did better than abstainers on all measures of cognitive ability. Sex, race, education and personality failed to account for the findings.111
- Scientists studied over 1,000 persons age 65 and older for over seven years. Light and moderate drinkers had less mental decline than non-drinkers.112
- Clinicians made a long-term study of 12,480 women age 70-81. Those who drank daily were about 20% less likely than abstainers to have poor memory and thinking abilities.113
- Statisticians studied 6,000 people age 65 and older. Moderate drinkers had a 54% lower risk of dementia than abstainers. The dementia included Alzheimer’s.114
- Epidemiologists studied 7,983 people aged 55 of age or older in The Netherlands w. They followed them for an average of six years. Those who had one to three drinks of per day had a much lower risk of dementia than abstainers.115
- Doctors studied over 400 people at least 75 years old for six years. Drinkers were only half as likely to develop dementia as abstainers. The dementia included Alzheimer’s.116
- Moderate drinking among older women can benefit memory. Moderate drinkers did better on measures of thinking and memory. On all measures, drinkers did better than abstainers. Moderate drinking was having up to two drinks per day.117
- Researchers completed a study of 1,018 persons age 65-79 measuring their physical and mental health. It did so for an average of 23 years. Either abstaining or drinking heavily increased risk of cognitive impairment.
- In the U.K. investigators made a study of over 6,000 adults. Those who had as little as a single drink per week had greater cognitive functioning than non-drinkers. Abstainers were twice as likely as occasional drinkers to receive the lowest cognitive test scores. The beneficial mental effects of alcohol increased with consumption.118
- Italian researchers did a study of 15,807 men and women 65 and older in Italy.. Only 19% of drinkers had mental impairment. That compared to 29% of abstainers. Controlling other factors changed nothing.119
- Clinicians completde an 18-year study of Japanese-American meItalian researchers. Moderate drinking predicted better cognition later in life. Both abstaining and heavy drinking predicted worse cognition.120
- Doctors made a study of 9,000 women age 70 to 79 over 15 years. Moderate drinkers, in comparison to abstainers, had better mental function. Doctors controlled for relevant factors. The effect of moderate drinking was equivalent to being one to two years younger.121
- An analysis of the research found that moderate drinking reduces cognitive decline. Abstaining from alcohol and abusing it increase the risk of cognitive decline and dementia.122
For more on alcohol and dementia visit these.
Popular resources on dementia.
Draper, B. Dealing with Dementia. A Guide to Alzheimer’s Disease and other Dementias. Crows Nest, NSW: Allen & Unwin, 2004.
Fife, B. Stop Alzheimers Now. Colorado Springs: Piccadilly, 2016,
Films Media. Preventing Dementia. NY: Films Media, 2016. (Video)
Null, G. Reboot your Brain. NY: Skyhorse, 2013.
Smith, T. Reducing your Risk of Dementia. London: Sheldon, 2011.
Thompson, R. and Pulsford, D. Dementia. Support for Family and Friends. London: Kingsley, 2012.
Whallet, L. Understanding Brain Aging and Dementia. NY: Columbia U Press, 2015.
VIII. Alcohol and Health: Arthritis.
Drinking alcohol in moderation reduces the risk of arthritis.
- A European study found that alcohol was associated with a large reduced risk of developing arthritic conditions. They included rheumatoid arthritis RA, osteoarthritis, reactive arthritis, psoriatic arthritis and spondylarthropathy.123
- Doctors made a large study in Sweden. The risk of arthritis decreased as the consumption of alcohol increased from light to moderate levels.124
- Clinicians made two other studies in Scandinavia. They then combined the data. Among drinkers, the quarter with the highest consumption levels had a decreased risk of rheumatoid arthritis of 40-50%. That’s in comparison to the half with the lowest consumption.125
- Epidemiologists studied 1,877 persons. Drinking reduced both the risk and severity of rheumatoid arthritis. Non-drinkers were four times more likely to get rheumatoid arthritis. That’s in comparison to people who drank on more than ten days a month. The risk of rheumatoid arthritis decreased with the frequency of alcohol consumption.126
- Finnish researchers made a study of 1,666 patients in Finland. Drinking greatly reduced the risk of rheumatoid arthritis.127
For more on alcohol and rheumatoid arthritis visit these.
Popular resources on arthritis
Arthritis Foundation. Overcoming Rheumatoid Arthritis. What You Can do for Yourself. Atlanta: The Found, 1993.
Green, W. Arthritis. A Self-Help Guide to Feeling Better. Chichester: Summersdale, 2016
Multz, C. How to Treat Arthritis with Sex and Alcohol.
West Conshohocken, PA: Infinity, 2005.
Sutton, A. Arthritis Sourcebook. Basic Consumer Health Information. Detroit, MI: Omnigraphics, ,2010.
IX. Alcohol and Health: Enlarged Prostate (BPH).
Drinking alcohol in moderation reduces the risk of developing enlarged prostate.
- Reviewers analyzed 19 published studies. The studies included over 120,000 men. Those who had two or more drinks a day had a 35% lower risk of developing benign prostate enlargement.128
- Dieticians completed a study of men. Those who had two or more drinks per day were 33% less likely to develop BPH than abstainers.129
- Doctors studied men (N= 29,386) age 40-75 for eight years. Those who had up to about 3.3 drinks per day had a 41% reduced risk of enlarged prostate.130
- Investigators studied 882 men age 65, 70, 75 and 80. The more men drank, the lower was their risk of BPH.131
- Researchers studied Japanese-American men (N= 6,581) for 17 years. Drinking reduced the risk of obstructive uropathy caused by enlarged prostate. Men who drank an average of 1.3 drinks per day had a 36% reduced risk compared with abstainers.132
- MDs studied 1,369 men in Italy younger than age 75. Those who had fewer than three drinks per day had a 12% lower risk than abstainers. Those who had seven or more drinks per day had a 35% lower risk of BPH. The risk was similar for beer, wine, and spirits.133
- Physicians made a case-control study of 100 Chinese patients over 60 with BPH. They used a control group same size. Men who drank had a 35% reduced risk of BPH compared with non-drinkers.134
- Clinicians studied 142 patients with lower urinary tract symptoms. 68.3% had BPH. Over twice the proportion without BPH were drinkers.135
- Doctors analyzed data from 34,694 subjects in a study. The more men drank, the lower was their risk of BPH.136
- Investigators made a study of 184 BPH patients and 246 control patients. Drinking did not increase BPH risk.137
- MDs made a case-control study of Chinese men. Those who had about two to three drinks per day had a 35% reduced risk. Those who had over four drinks per day had a 38% reduced risk of BPH. That’s in comparison to abstainers.138
- Epidemiologists studied 2,797 men age 60 or older. Those who drank daily had a 41% lower chance of lower urinary tract symptoms than non-drinkers.139
- Clinicians studied the development of BPH among 2,036 volunteers by following them for 12 to 21 years. The risk of BPH dropped as drinking increased.140
- MDs made a case-control study of 910 Rhode Islanders and 2,003 controls. Alcohol reduced the risk of BPH.141
- Scientists followed 1,700 men for a mean of nine years. Alcohol was not a risk factor for BPH.142
- Korean doctors did a community-based study of 514 men in that country. Those who drank more had a lower risk of BPH.143
- Researchers studied 14,897 California men. Those who had three or more drinks per day had a 25% lower risk of BPH than non-drinkers.144
For more on alcohol and enlarged prostate
Popular Resources on Enlarged Prostate
A.D.A.M., Inc. Enlarged Prostate. NY: Films Media, 2013. (Video)
Nat Inst Aging. Prostate Problems. Bethesda: The Institute, 2005.
Parker, J. and Parker, P. The Official Patient’s Sourcebook on Prostate Enlargement. San Diego: Ion, 2002.
Taguchi, Y. The Prostate. Everything You Need to Know about the Man Gland. Ottawa: Canad Elec Lib, 2015.
X. Alcohol and Health: Osteoporosis.
Drinking alcohol in moderation reduces the risk of developing osteoporosis.
- Researchers analyzed 33 studies. Drinking increased neck bone density for each drink per day over the range of 0-3 drinks per day. Alcohol reduced the risk for hip fracture with increasing consumption. Drinkers generally had reduced bone loss over time. That’s in comparison to abstainers.145
- Investigators studied identical female twins. One twin drank very little and the other twin drank moderately. Twins were used because they are genetic clones. They have the same genes and grew up in the same environment. Thus, it’s easier to control for other possible confounders. Moderate drinkers had much denser bones. That’s in comparison to the control group of of very light drinkers.146
- Doctors studied over 200,000 postmenopausal women in the U.S. Drinking reduced the risk of osteoporosis.147
- Analysts used data from 13,512 persons ages 20 or older. Bone density was higher in men and postmenopausal women drinkers in comparison to abstainers.148
- Researchers studied 5,865 adults aged 65 years and older. Moderate drinkers had a large decrease in risk of hip fracture. In comparison to long-term abstainers, moderate drinkers had a 22% lower chance of osteoporosis.14
For more on alcohol and osteoporosis
Popular resources on osteoporosis
A.D.A.M., Inc. Osteoporosis. NY: 2013. (Video)
FDA. Osteoporosis. Silver Spring, MD: FDA, 2013.
Gomez, J. Living with Osteoporosis. London: Sheldon, 2006.
Hoffmann, G. Osteoporosis. NY: Marshall, 2008. (Juvenile)
Kanopy (Firm). Living with Osteoporosis. San Francisco: Kanopy, 2016. (Video)
XI. Alcohol and Health: Gallstone & Gallbladder Disease.
Drinking alcohol in moderation reduces the risk of developing gallbladder disease.
- Doctors in the UK followed 1,290,413 women for over six years. Drinking decreased the risk of gallstone disease. Women who had 15 or more drinks per week had a 41% reduced risk. That’s in comparison to one to two drinks per week.150
- Scientists analyzed data on 58,462 Italians adults age 25 and over. They controlled for age sex and other factors. The scientists compare drinkers to abstainers. Those who had up to about 1.3 drinks each day had a 17% decreased risk of gallstone disease. Drinkers who had from 1.3 to 2.8 drinks daily had a 33% decrease. Those who had more than 2.8 drinks each day had a 42% drop in risk.151
- Clinicians followed 88,837 women aged 34 to 59 for four years. Those who drank daily had a 40% decreased risk of gallbladder disease.152
- Italian doctors studied 29,584 Italian men. Daily moderate drinkers had greatly lower risk of gallstone disease. That was in comparison to non-drinkers.153
- Researchers followed a total of 80,898 women in the U.S. for 20 years. As drinking increased, risk of gallstone disease decreased. In comparison to abstainers, those who drank up to one drink per day had a 14% decrease in risk. Those who drank an average of four or more drinks per day had a 38% reduced risk. Frequency drinking greatly decreased risk.154
Popular resources on gallbladder disease.
Holm, R., et al. Gallbladder Disease. Brookings, SD: SD State U Coop Ext, 2009.
James, D. and Scott, L. The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Digestive Health. NY: Alpha, 2010.
King, J. and Rohan, R. Mayo Clinic on Digestive Health. Prince Frederick, MD: Recorded Books, 2002. (Audio)
XII. Alcohol and Health: Cancers.
Drinking alcohol in moderation reduces the risk of developing kidney, non-Hodgkin, Hodgkins, and thyroid cancers. It has no impact on the risk of developing virtually all other cancers. See Drinking Alcohol and Cancer Risk.
Kidney Cancer (Renal Cell Carcinoma).
- Researchers analyzed data from 12 studies of 760,044 persons whom they tracked for seven to 20 years. Moderate drinkers were about 30% less likely to develop kidney cancer than abstainers.155
- A study of 59,237 Swedish women age 40-76 followed them over time. Those who had at least one drink per week had a 38% lower risk of kidney cancer. That’s incomparison to abstainers or those who drank less. For those over 55, the risk dropped by 66%.156
- Doctors studied large cohort of Finnish men. The risk of kidney cancer declined as drinking increased.157
- Investigators tracked 88,759 women for 20 years. They also observe 47,828 me for 14 years. Alcohol reduced the risk of kidney cancer in both sexes.158
- Compared with nondrinkers, men who drank one or more drinks per day had a 31% lower risk of kidney cancer. This was among 161,126 subjects.159
- An Iowa study of postmenopausal women followed them over a 15-year period. Those who drank, compared with nondrinkers, had a much lower risk of kidney cancer.160
For more on alcohol and kidney cancer
Popular Resources on alcohol and kidney cancer.
Campbell, S., et al. 100 Questions & Answers about Kidney Cancer. Burlington, MA: Jones & Bartlett, 2016.
National Cancer Institute. What You Need to Know about Kidney Cancer. Bethesda: The Institute, 2010.
Walczak, J. and Carducci, M. Johns Hopkins Medicine Patients’ Guide to Kidney Cancer. Sudbury, MA: Jones and Bartlett, 2011.
Non-Hodgkin Lymphoma (Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma).
- Analysts reviewed the findings from nine international studies. Drinking reduced the risk of non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma (NHL) by 27%.161
- Doctors made a study of 473,984 persons. Drinkers had a much lower risk of NHL than abstainers. Those who drank over 28 drinks per week had risk about 25% lower.162
- Investigators studied a cohort of 35,156 women aged 55-69 for over nine years. Drinkers had a much lower risk of NHL compared with abstainer.163
- Doctors did a case-control study of US adult. Drinkers had a much lower risk of NHL than did nondrinkers.164
- Researchers did a case-control study in non-Mediterranean European countries. Drinking greatly reduced the risk of NHL among people in those countries.165
For more on alcohol and non-Hodgkin lymphoma
Popular resources on lymphoma.
Adler, E. Living with Lymphoma. A Patient’s Guide. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins U Press, 2005.
Lymphoma Assn (GB). Living with Lymphoma. Aylesbury: The Assn, 2014.
Lymphoma Canada. Understanding NHL. A Patient’s Guide to Non-Hodgkin Lymphoma. Mississauga, Ont: Lymphoma Can, 2016.
Nat Cancer Inst. Non-Hodgkin Lymphoma. Washington: The Inst, 2017.
Williams, C., et al. Young Person’s Guide to Lymphoma. For People with Hogdkin Lymphoma and Non-Hodgkin Lymphoma. Aylesbury: Lymphoma Assn (GB), 2010.
Hodgkin’s Lymphoma (HL).
- Doctors did a case-control study of subjects in Europe. Their results were “consistent with previous studies, suggesting a protective effect of alcohol on HL.”166
- German investigators made a case-control study. Alcohol reduced risk of HL for both men and women. For men it dropped 53%.167
- Italian doctors studied non-smokers. Drinking reduced risk of HL.168
- Analysts examined data from Northern Italians. Drinking reduced the risk of HL among both smokers and non-smokers.169
- A common symptom of HL is pain in the lymph nodes. This is reduced after consuming alcohol.170
Popular resources on lymphoma.
Adler, E. Living with Lymphoma. A Patient’s Guide. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins U Press, 2005.
Lymphoma Assn (GB). Living with Lymphoma. Aylesbury: The Assn, 2014.
Nat Cancer Inst. What You Need to Know about Hodgkin Lymphoma. Washington: The Inst, 2013
Williams, C., et al. Young Person’s Guide to Lymphoma. For People with Hogdkin Lymphoma and Non-Hodgkin Lymphoma. Aylesbury: Lymphoma Assn (GB), 2010.
- UK investigators studied were 1,280,296) women. Drinking greatly reduced the risk of thyroid cancer.171
- Doctors analyzed data from 490,000 persons in the U.S. Increased drinking decreased the risk of thyroid cancer.172
- Researchers made a country-wide study in New Caledonia . Drinking lowered the risk of of thyroid cancer.173
- Doctors studied women in Washington State. Higher drinking led to lower risk of thyroid cancer.174
For more on alcohol and thyroid cancer
Alcohol and the Risk of Thyroid Cancer.
Popular resources on thyroid cancer.
Lippman, F., et al. Thyroid. Ft. Lauderdale: Nova Southeastern U, 2008. (Video)
Nat Cancer Inst. Thyroid Cancer. Bethesda: The Inst, 2012.
XIII. Alcohol and Health: Other Diseases.
Drinking alcohol in moderation appears to reduce the risk of developing many other diseases and health problems.
Moderate drinkers are more resistant to viruses of the common cold. Those who had two to three drinks per day had an 85% greater resistance. Those having one to two had a 65% reduced risk. Those drank less than daily had a 30% lower risk than abstainers.175
Intermittent Claudication (IC).
Doctors made a study of 18,339 IC observations. Moderate drinking greatly reduced the risk of intermittent claudication. IC increased risk of death from cardiovascular disease two- to four-fold.176
Metabolic syndrome is a cluster of risk factors that increase the odds for coronary artery disease, stroke, and diabetes. Doctors analyzed seven studies of 22,000 persons. Drinking in moderation greatly reduced the risk of metabolic syndrome.177
Peripheral Artery Disease.
Harvard researchers found moderate drinkers to have an almost 1/3 lower risk than infrequent drinkers. Peripheral Artery Disease is a major cause of death among the elderly.178
The list continues with many others, such as these.
Poor physical condition in the elderly.185
Stress and depression.186
Type B gastritis.187
What Is Moderation?
Medical researchers generally describe moderation as one to three drinks per day. Those who have less than about half a drink per day generally have small health benefits. Four or five drinks may be moderate for large individuals but excessive for small or light people. Women are generally smaller and have other biological differences. So the typical woman should generally take 25 to 30 percent less than the average man.114 Alcoholics, those with adverse reactions to alcohol, and those advised against drinking by their physician should abstain.
Until recently, the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA) considered moderation this way. It was a man having four drinks on any day with an average of 14 drinks per week. For women, it was consuming three drinks in any one day and an average of seven drinks per week. It’s now two drinks for men and one for women. But it varies greatly around the world. See What is moderate Drinking? This is important alcohol and health information.
An Important Fact
Here’s another fact for alcohol and health. A standard alcoholic drink is:
- A 12-ounce can or bottle of regular beer.
- A 5-ounce glass of dinner wine.
- A shot (one and one-half ounces) of 80 proof spirits.
Learn more about the Mediterranean Diet Pyramid.
The Harvard School of Public Health, WHO and Oldways released this pyramid. Both tradition and current science are its basis. Wine is the traditional beverage of the Mediterranean. So it suggests wine. But research finds that beer and spirits are just as beneficial to health. The most helpful ingredient in alcoholic beverages is the alcohol itself.
Drinking Pattern Important
Drinking patterns are important. “The key to healthy, moderate consumption is a regular, one to three drinks per day pattern.”117 But drinking a “weeks worth” of alcohol in a few hours would be unhealthful.
The health benefits of drinking apply to moderate consumption. Heavy drinking, poor health and shorter life go together. There really can be too much of a good thing.
Salud! Skoal! A votre sante’! Prost! L’chayim! Or, in English, “to your health!” But all in moderation.
This website makes no suggestions or recommendations about alcohol and health.
Food Pyramid by permission of Oldways.
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