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Is Alcohol Good or Bad for Your Health?

By Ana Mantica, July/August 2009

Two new studies give more health reasons to sip—or skip—that alcoholic drink.


READER'S COMMENT:
"what about whisky/brandy and the like "

If you enjoy a glass of wine or beer with dinner, you’ve probably already heard the good news (it might boost your good “HDL” cholesterol)—as well as the bad (it could also elevate your blood pressure). Two new studies give more health reasons to sip—or skip—that alcoholic drink.

Glass Half Empty: Women who drink even one alcoholic beverage a day have an increased risk of some cancers (especially breast cancer), according to new research done at Oxford on nearly 1.3 million women. Says lead author Naomi Allen, Ph.D., “There is mounting evidence that even drinking alcohol in moderation can increase estrogen, which in turn directly raises the risk of breast cancer.”

Glass Half Full: Cheers to stronger bones! According to a new study out of Tufts University, drinking alcohol in moderation might help keep bones strong—in men and postmenopausal women, who have lower levels of estrogen (which helps to maintain bone mass). The study found a stronger association between bone density and drinking beer and wine, compared to liquor, indicating that it’s more than just alcohol that boosts bone health. Beer and wine contain silicon, a mineral that promotes bone formation. Wine also contains polyphenols that may stimulate bone-building, explains lead study author Katherine L. Tucker, Ph.D.

Bottom Line: Alcohol, in moderation, can be part of a healthy lifestyle, Tucker says. But you have to weigh your personal risks: for example, if you have a strong family history of cancer, you may want to opt for mocktails more often.

Remember: A glass of wine or a bottle of beer contains calories—and maybe more than you think.

5 oz. wine = 125 calories
12 oz. beer = 150 calories
1 Mixed drink (piña colada, margarita) = 300+ calories



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