Throughout medical school, I learned that light to moderate alcohol consumption had health benefits.
I still stand behind that notion—and I have my entire career.
Of course, the pendulum has swung in the opposite direction many times, warning that any alcohol consumption at all can be dangerous…
And so, it should be consumed rarely.
Well, allow me to present the findings of a recent study, which confirms a very real benefit of raising one’s (occasional) glass…
Liquid heart protection
According to researchers, light to moderate drinking was associated with a 22 percent lower risk of major adverse cardiovascular events (MACE), compared with little to no consumption.
And for those with a history of anxiety, the protective heart benefit went up to a 40 percent lowered risk.
But here’s the kicker (which I find rather fascinating)…
The benefit was linked partly to decreased stress signaling in the brain!
Of course, we all know that lowering stress is one of the main reasons people drink. So, it makes sense that the benefit of raising one’s glass was strongest among people with a history of anxiety, a condition associated with higher stress signaling in the brain.
Not to mention, behind the scenes, chronic stress has strong links to heart disease.
Well, since alcohol helps reduce short-term stress, it’s not too far-fetched to believe drinking a glass or two may just ward off this No. 1 killer disease.
And for those of us who like to have a drink or two, this is good news. Now for the bad news…
Moderation, and a healthy lifestyle, are key
This research also linked light to moderate alcohol consumption with an increased risk of cancer. And boy, did the study authors really hammer this point home.
I get it… nobody wants to be diagnosed with the big C. But it’s all relative…
I mean, why not reiterate that obesity carries a FAR greater risk for developing over a dozen types of cancer? (Especially when the obesity rates here in the U.S. are at an all-time high.)
With all the harmful things we do to ourselves, the powers-that-be always pick the easy targets—fat (WRONG), salt (WRONG), beef (WRONG), even alcohol (WRONG)—and ignore the one thing that would make the biggest difference to public health…
Highlighting the dangers of excess sugar and processed foods.
In other words, this is one area where I believe the benefits outweigh the negative if you drink occasionally while following a healthy lifestyle.
Heck, even my No. 1 dietary recommendation—following a Mediterranean-style diet—warrants moderate alcohol consumption. And I’m okay with promoting light to moderate drinking, too.
That being said, I have five rules of thumb for maximizing the benefits, while minimizing alcohol’s most serious risks. I outline them, and more, in the September 2021 issue of my monthly Logical Health Alternatives newsletter (“Your body on booze: Breaking down the good, the bad, and the unknown”).
Subscribers have immediate access to that, and more, in the archives. Just log in using the “Subscribers” tab on my website.
“Alcohol May Curb Stress Signaling in Brain to Protect Heart.” Medscape, 06/14/2023. (medscape.com/viewarticle/993199)