Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Is Alcohol Good for You?

Not sure if you've heard yet but New Hampshire is the Napa Valley for beer drinkers. There is even a Granite State Beer Trail which takes you to all the different breweries around the state(minus Budweiser). It is a fun way to sample different beers. However, after noticing that my beer passport has started filling up pretty quickly, I started to wonder, is alcohol good for me?

If you do a quick google search of alcohol's benefits you will find it everywhere. It seems that alcohol consumption is almost considered on the same level as exercise by some for it's heart benefits. And there has been quite a bit of research out there suggesting that light to moderate alcohol consumption(a glass a day for women and 2 for men) may be beneficial for multiple cardiovascular outcomes(such as congestive heart failure stroke, diabetes, coronary artery disease) as well as with all cause mortality. In fact, there has been a correlation between these people and less risk of these disorders even than in teetotalers. So not drinking enough may be as bad as drinking too much(heavy drinkers are still at the highest risk).

See, I'm glad I am traveling on the beer trail! So drinking is good for me?

Not so fast!

The British Medical Journal just published findings that light to moderate alcohol consumption led to increased risk of overall cancer in both men and women. However, this may be another example of how women get the short end of the stick.  While men needed to also be smokers to increase their risk of cancer, women who never smoked but did light to moderate drinking increased their risk of alcohol related cancer(primarily breast cancer). That means that one drink a day recommendation that may be good for your heart, might not be so good for your chest.

So it's bad?

Hmmm that's a tough one.

What I would suggest is to look at family history of heart disease versus alcohol related cancers and see which you are more predisposed to, then err on that side. I wonder whether a drink every other day still has the protective nature for the heart without the cancer causing effects.

And then to throw another curve ball in the mix. Supposedly alcohol works in opposition to grapefruit in regard to medication extraction(it gets it out of your system sooner). So maybe while I'm on anti-malarials, I should make sure my beer is a grapefruit Shandy?

One thing, however, is clear. Try to keep in the light to moderate range AT MOST! There is no benefit beyond that second drink and there are definitely plenty of well documented side-effects.

Want to have more than one? Try a sample of each:)

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