Good news for those who like a tipple: U.S. researchers have come out in support of the argument that alcohol can offer some health benefits, but only when enjoyed in moderation.
Although many of us may have started the year booze-free as part of 'Dry January,' researchers at the University of Southern California have given their advice on how we can reap the health benefits of a little alcohol, after a 2017 study published in the American College of Cardiology found that mild to moderate drinking can offer overall health benefits.
Sharon Orrange, a clinical associate professor of medicine at the Keck School of Medicine of USC commented that "This study gave the green light that moderate drinking is good," adding that alcohol can decrease the risk of stroke and heart disease, as well as reduce the risk for all causes of death.
However, she cautioned that keeping track of your intake is key, with the study also finding that drinking excessively will essentially kill any benefits of alcohol.
She stressed the need to be be realistic about how much you're drinking, commenting that, "I think we all underestimate our intake. It's seven drinks a week for women. Men can have two drinks a night."
She also added that the measurement of each drink should also be limited, to 5 ounces of wine, a 12-ounce beer or 1.5 ounces of 80-proof alcohol, which may be less than people are currently pouring in the comfort of their own home.
Orrange also advises picking two or three nights during the week when you don't drink at all to help moderate your intake and to also get a better night's sleep, as although alcohol might induce sleepiness it affects the quality of your shut-eye.
As for what alcohol to choose wine is often touted as the best choice due to being rich in antioxidants, however research shows that the benefits of moderate drinking are more or less the same whichever alcohol you use.
Professor Daryl Davies, a neuro-pharmacologist at USC also commented that, "Antioxidants in wine are so low that it's a joke," adding that you would have to drink a large quality of red wine to get a large quantity of antioxidants, which would cancel out any benefits.
Overdoing it can also lead to health problems not health benefits says Davies, such as neurological and memory-related disorders, certain forms of cancer, heart disease and liver problems.
However like Orrange he agrees that a little alcohol can be a good thing, saying that it has a positive impact on high blood pressure and stress, two big health factors.
As for why alcohol can bring health benefits Prof Davies says one of the answers could be a simple one. As an anxiolytic alcohol can help to reduce anxiety, meaning that relaxing and unwinding with a not-too-large glass of wine can be good for you.