Moderate Drinking May Boost Your Health

Women topped men, but both more likely than abstainers to report above-average fitness

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FRIDAY, June 29, 2007 (HealthDay News) -- Cheers to your health: Moderate drinkers are more likely to report above average health, compared with lifetime abstainers, light drinkers and heavy drinkers, researchers say.

There is evidence that moderate drinking is associated with reduced risks of cardiovascular disease, injuries and mortality, but for a new study, published in the July/August issue of the American Journal of Health Promotion, researchers wanted to find out how different levels of drinkers felt about their health.

"We wanted to see if moderate drinkers are actually feeling better by their own assessment," Michael French, a researcher at the University of Miami, said in a prepared statement.

This study looked at 2002 data from a survey of U.S. households representing more than 31,000 adults. The survey was conducted by the U.S. Census Bureau for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The survey contained questions about alcohol consumption, health behaviors and chronic health conditions. Moderate drinking was defined as four to 14 drinks a week for men and four to seven drinks a week for women.

The male participants who reported moderate drinking were 1.27 times more likely to report above-average health, compared with those who were lifetime abstainers and former light drinkers. The moderate drinking women were more than twice as likely as abstainers to report above-average health.

"Our results suggest that a moderate amount of drinking is not necessarily dangerous for most people and may actually be health-promoting," said French.

Moderate drinking may benefit health by helping to ward off cardiovascular disease, particularly hardening of the arteries and stroke caused by blockages in blood vessels, according to Dr. Arthur Klatsky, a researcher and cardiology consultant at the Kaiser Permanente Medical Care Program in Oakland, Calif.

But both French and Klatsky warned that heavy drinking contributes to poor health. "Heavy drinking by everybody's reckoning is bad business for health and social outcomes," Klatsky said in a prepared statement.

More information

The American Heart Association has more about alcohol, wine and cardiovascular disease.

SOURCE: Health Behavior News Service, news release, June 29, 2007

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