Recent research by the University of Gothenburg in Sweden has confirmed what everyone with a boisterous grandmother knows—that moderate amounts of alcohol actually only makes them stronger.
The team of researchers found that women who regularly drink one to two pints per week are 30 percent less likely to suffer a heart attack, when compared to heavy drinkers and teetotalers.
The study tracked the alcohol consumption of 1,500 women over the course 32 years, whose frequency of drinking ranged from "daily" to "never." Of the women who were 70 to 92 years old over the course of the study, 185 had a heart attack, 162 suffered a stroke, 160 developed diabetes, and 345 developed cancer. These diagnoses and medical conditions were then compared to their habits of alcohol consumption.
First, they found a statistically significant relationship between high consumption (which was defined as "more frequent than once or twice per month") of hard liquor and the risk of developing cancer. In other words, those who were considered to be heavy drinkers were about 50 percent more likely to die of cancer, compared with moderate drinkers.
The same was fundamentally true for beer drinking, but with an interesting bright spot. Women who reported drinking beer one or twice per week ran a 30 percent lower risk of heart attack compared to lushes or to those who abstained from alcohol consumption. Moderate consumption of beer thus seems to protect women from heart attacks.
"Previous research also suggests that alcohol in moderate quantities can have a certain protective effect, but there is still uncertainty as to whether or not this really is the case," researcher Dominique Hange explained in a press release.
"Our results have been checked against other risk factors for cardiovascular disease, which substantiates the findings. At the same time, we were unable to confirm that moderate wine consumption has the same effect, so our results also need to be confirmed through follow-up studies."
The University of Gothenburg team also found that these results match similar findings with male subjects, who also seem to benefit from moderate alcohol consumption. But these results are hardly a license to start forcing your grandparents to drink at Thanksgiving "because science says so."
Alcohol may well have protective properties but the authors of this study warn that it is "premature to recommend that women should drink beer regularly, as this protection must be compared with the possible disadvantages of alcohol consumption."