Benefits of Alcohol Not Assured for Heavy Drinkers   

Benefits of Alcohol Not Assured for Heavy Drinkers


If you're the kind of drinker who raises a glass to the "health benefits" of alcohol, think again. A statistician with the National Institute of Health (NIH) in Maryland, found that while moderate alcohol consumption has some health benefits (reduced risk of heart disease and stroke), alcoholics and heavy drinkers don't benefit. She compared information about 37,682 adults from the 1988 National Health Interview Survey Alcohol Supplement, and information on 3,586 deaths listed in the National Death Index from 1988 to 1995.

"These findings revealed that among non-dependent drinkers, light and moderate drinking was protective and heavier drinking did not significantly affect the risk of dying; among dependent drinkers, the effect of alcohol consumption was never protective and often increased the risk of death." Light drinking was defined as one to three drinks a week, moderate drinking as three drinks a week to two drinks a day, heavy drinking as two to four drinks daily, and very heavy drinking as more than four drinks a day.

The report, published in the January issue of Alcoholism: Clinical & Experimental Research, noted that alcoholics drank less wine and more of other types of liquor. Heavy drinking can damage the liver and cause some cancers. However, light and moderate drinkers may also seem healthier because they live healthier lifestyles in general. Deputy Director of NIH's National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, said in a statement that light and moderate drinkers are "more likely to exercise and be at their ideal body weight, more likely to get 8 hours of sleep at night, and more likely to eat a balanced diet. 


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