Phillip Minton M.D.

When is Alcohol a Health Tonic?

In cancer, cardiovascular, dementia, diabetes on July 28, 2012 at 10:17 pm

We are all very well aware of the risks of over-imbibing with alcohol. It can poison our heart muscles, pickle our livers and baste our brains. It can cause dementia, cirrhotic liver disease, and alcoholic cardiomyopathy, just to name a few.. Alcohol is obviously a dangerous “poison” in high and frequent doses. But can it be a health tonic in lower doses? The scientific evidence is that it indeed can act to better our health and longevity when enjoyed in moderation.

What is moderation? This is a very important question because the immoderate consumption of EtOH causes so many diseases and social ills worldwide. Experts generally classify the consumption of 12 fluid ounces (355 milliliters) of beer,5 fluid ounces (148 milliliters) of wine, or 1.5 fluid ounces (44 milliliters) of 80 proof distilled liquor as constituting moderate consumption on a daily or less basis.

The types of health benefits are wide ranging. They include lowered diabetes risk, less heart disease, fewer gallstones, and a lowered risk of strokes.

Male vs female differences may exist. Some studies show an elevated risk of cancer in women, particularly breast cancer, for women with any degree of alcohol consumption. Further research should give us a more definite take on this. Folate supplementation may help to counteract negative breast effects of alcohol consumption.

In summary, my opinion is that moderate alcohol intake for males is beneficial, but if I were a woman, I might try to avoid it altogether, at least until more facts are known about the effects of alcohol on the female body.

Dedicated to mon sherrie!.

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