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News on Booze

Posted by wmagnus On May - 24 - 2010

There’s been a lot of coverage recently about how alcohol plays into unhealthy living and increases risks of some types of cancers. We’ve even covered those papers in this blog. The last week has seen far better news for lovers of wine and spirits, though.

French researchers have taken a long hard look at the “French Paradox” and found that even boiling away all the confounding bits, it still holds for men and women. Women get some more good news about alcohol and Alzheimer’s.Even the French have wondered whether the cardio protective effect of alcohol consumption was a myth, so much so that researchers at the Hôpital de la Pitié in Paris dug through massive amounts of data. Looking at examinations of nearly 150,000 patients, they found that patients who drank moderately (10g to 30g of alcohol per day) had much more favorable cardiovascular risk factors than those who either drank little (<10g per day) or a lot (>30g per day).

“Moderate female drinkers equally displayed low waist circumference, blood pressure and fasting triglycerides and low-density lipoprotein-cholesterol. Alcohol intake was strongly associated with plasma high-density lipoprotein-cholesterol in both sexes.”

The researchers also found that even low alcohol consumption improved cardiovascular risk over people who never drank at all. Heavy drinking was still found to be a negative all the way around.

Meanwhile researchers at the University of Valencia working with colleagues in Barcelona found that women who drink lightly or moderately reduce their risk of Alzheimer’s disease. This effect was most evident in non-smoking women. They also looked at smoking but aside from blunting the protective effect of alcohol, smoking didn’t change the risk of Alzheimer’s disease.

All this is great news for those that enjoy a drink and still want to age against the machine, but what counts as moderate drinking? 10g to 30g per day of alcohol for men, top out at 20g for women if you use the French study as a basis. 10g of alcohol looks like this:

  • 100ml wine
  • 285ml full strength beer
  • 60ml port or sherry
  • 30ml spirits

So keeping in mind that many mixed drinks offer more than 30ml of spirits, we’re looking at 2-3 glasses of wine maximum, 2 cocktails, or 1.5 pints of beer to hold things to 30g of alcohol. Not a bad bargain for cardiovascular risk reduction.

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