Harvard Health Letter

Moderate drinking - and how to keep it that way

Moderation in all things — maybe that is the key to health and happiness. The proverb certainly seems true for alcohol consumption.

Study after study has shown that moderate alcohol consumption is associated with good health. The evidence is strongest for protection against heart attack and stroke: there's an abundance of epidemiological data, as well as results showing that alcohol increases "good" HDL cholesterol and reduces factors in the blood, such as fibrinogen, that cause clotting and therefore make heart attacks and strokes more likely. Researchers have reported correlations with a lower risk of developing type 2 diabetes, having gallstones, and experiencing steep cognitive decline in old age.

The news isn't all good: moderate drinking seems to increase the risk of colon and breast cancer, although women may be able to reduce the breast cancer risk some by increasing their intake of folate.

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