Alcohol and Your Health: Its Effect May Be Better Than You Think
We're always hearing about the dangers of drinking. But what about drinking in moderation? New research shows that the health effects of alcohol are largely positive -- from improving arthritis to reducing the risks of diabetes and heart attacks.
Scientists in Sheffield, England, released the results of a new study last week. They found that people who never drink are four times as likely to develop rheumatoid arthritis as those who consume alcohol at least 10 days a month.
A drink appears to reduce the severity of the disease, too. Researchers found patients who drank alcohol most frequently experienced less joint pain and swelling.
Experts warn the findings should not be taken as a green light to drink booze. They advise people to remain within the recommended government guidelines of 21 units a week for men and 14 for women.
But it seems a little of what you fancy from the drinks cabinet does you good as previous studies have shown alcohol does have health benefits if taken sensibly.
Here, we look at some of the benefits of enjoying the odd drink.
- Studies have suggested that having one glass of wine or a beer a day can reduce the risk of heart disease and heart attacks because they raise good cholesterol and increase antioxidants.
- Red wine is said to be especially beneficial because it contains plant chemicals called procyandins, which can protect the heart.
- Researchers have also discovered that limited amounts of alcohol improve the elasticity in your arteries, cutting the risk of high blood pressure.
- Scientists say the occasional drink can keep Alzheimer's at bay. In May, a Spanish study suggested those who indulge in the odd drink are 47 percent less likely to develop the disease than teetotallers.
- Booze may prevent blood clots by breaking up the body's natural blood-clotters (platelets) and decreasing the "stickiness" of blood. It has a mild anti-coagulating effect, keeping platelets from clumping together to form clots. is can reduce the risk of a stroke and heart attack.
- Drinking may reduce the risk of developing type-2 diabetes because it increases the amount of much-needed insulin secreted by the pancreas. A 12-year study on the effects of alcohol and diabetes found moderate drinkers had a 35 percent reduced risk of developing the condition compared with non-drinkers.
- U.K. researchers have claimed that drinking a small amount of alcohol protects against the development of gallstones. They said consuming two units a day cuts the chance of getting gallstones by a third because alcohol reduces cholesterol in the bile, from which gallstones form.
- Studies in America have revealed that sensible drinking can reduce the chances of developing lymphoma. Scientists report that alcohol inhibits the activity of a protein called mTOR, which plays a key role in controlling cell processes. They found that the equivalent of several drinks a day resulted in "a striking inhibition of lymphoma growth" in mice. Now they hope the discovery could lead to a cure for cancers such as non- Hodgkin's lymphoma.
- Drinking can also cut down the chance of getting a stomach ulcer. German researchers found that alcohol works as effectively as an antiseptic against Heliobacter Pylori, the bacterium which causes ulcers. They discovered that people who drank a glass of wine or pint of beer a day were 30 per cent less likely to harbour H.Pylori than teetotallers.
So drink to your health!