A beer a day keeps the doctor away?

Studies have shown that moderate alcohol use can actually be good for you.

Dylan Graham

Studies have shown that moderate alcohol use can actually be good for you.

Lauren Ringger

Eating an apple every day can get boring. The good news is there may be an alternative to keeping the doctor away. A recent research study from the University of Calgary suggests moderate alcohol consumption can cut risks of cardiac diseases by 25 percent.

The study went through six decades of data and took as many as a million subjects. Released by the “British Medical Journal,” it included more than 80 previous research papers published between 1950 and 2009.

Some of the research found that HDL cholesterol – the “good” kind – increased with moderate alcohol consumption while markers for such things as inflammation and blood vessel clotting also seemed to be lowered.

“Much of the literature with alcohol and cardiovascular disease lacks the detail we seek, yet the existing evidence suggests that there may be some modest benefit,” said Ruth Ann Brintnall, associate professor at the Kirkhof College of Nursing. “However, that benefit is best apparent in people who take good care of themselves and have regular check-ups, exercise on a regular basis, eat a consistent heart-smart diet, and recognize that any particular risk factors for heart disease need careful follow-up. Thus, we cannot depend on alcohol to make up for unhealthy habits. This message needs to be clear.”

In a similar research article written by Dr. Christine Tangney and Dr. Robert Rosenson published by UpToDate, Tangney and Rosenson write that moderate drinking may have health benefits, but there has not been enough randomized trials to confirm that alcohol directly benefits.

“Several factors should be considered in interpreting the evidence that relates alcohol consumption to cardiovascular risks and benefits: uncertain verification of alcohol use, multiple possible confounding factors, and differing definitions of a standard drink,” according to the article. “These issues are inherent in observational studies. To date, randomized trials assigning participants to specified doses of alcohol have not been performed.”

In the collegiate world, alcohol consumption is more often than not associated with binge drinking, especially on the cusp of spring break. In light of those drinking tendencies, coordinator of the Alcohol Campus Education Services Eric Klingensmith said the research does not suggest that any amount of consumed alcohol will benefit the heart. In fact, over-consumption of alcohol can obliterate any health advantages that may come with a small amount of alcohol.

“Most of these studies are done on older males, so it is inconclusive to say if younger people, under the age of 25, whose brains are still developing, would receive any health benefits. If anything, the benefits are limited,” Klingensmith said. “When people are in an unfamiliar environment, like a lot of students on spring break, they tend to drink more because the normal cues are not there. It is really important that students know about responsible and safe drinking all of the time, and especially on spring break.”

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