Science Behind Health Benefits of Moderate Beer Consumption

Oct 10, 2006

There is mounting scientific evidence that moderate consumption of beer or other alcoholic beverages -- defined by the government as one to two servings daily -- may actually have health benefits over not consuming alcohol at all.

Research conducted on the potential health benefits of beer and other alcoholic beverages will be presented in the nation’s capital on Tuesday, October 10, at the Ceres® Forum “Beer: To Your Health!” a conference hosted by the University of Maryland Center for Food, Nutrition and Agriculture Policy (CFNAP). The conference is the first of its kind in the U.S. to focus on the possible health benefits of beer and will feature national and international experts on the subjects of moderate alcohol consumption and risk communication.

A new national survey, conducted by CFNAP in conjunction with the forum, reveals differences in what Americans think of as a “moderate amount.” The biggest differences fall along age, gender and racial lines and about perceptions of which alcoholic beverages have health benefits. CFNAP director and leader of the study Maureen Storey will present the survey results at the October 10 forum.

Health Benefits

Most people have heard about the potential health benefits of red wine, but in the past decade hundreds of studies have been conducted suggesting that some of the benefits derived from moderate alcohol consumption arise from the ethanol itself, making consumption of beer, wine or spirits equally beneficial.

The 2005 Dietary Guidelines for Americans cite several studies indicating that light-to-moderate alcohol consumption is linked to lower mortality from coronary heart disease, especially among men ages 45 or older and women ages 55 or older.* The Guidelines recommend that “If you choose to drink alcoholic beverages, do so in moderation,” which the Guidelines define as one drink a day for women and two for men.

“While many studies consider the health benefits of all types of alcohol relatively equal, today we are exploring whether beer makes a unique contribution beyond that attributed to other types of alcohol,” said Storey.

Survey Results

“Drinking in moderation seems like a simple message, but is it?” asked Storey. “This survey is an attempt to understand what people define as moderation and their perceptions about the health benefits of alcoholic beverages.”

The CFNAP study revealed that many people understand the definition of moderation, but perceptions vary. The results of the national telephone survey of 1,032 adults, 21 years of age or older, conducted in September, 2005, include:

• A majority of people surveyed view moderate consumption of alcohol as healthful, but almost twice as many men and more than four times as many women say wine is healthful over those who say beer has health benefits. Even fewer said moderate consumption of spirits has health benefits.
• More adult college graduates believe there are differences in the healthfulness of alcoholic beverages than do adult high school graduates or adults with less than a high school education.
• There are gender, age, income, education level and racial differences in beer consumption. For example:
o Significantly more men than women report drinking beer.
o Among men and women who drink beer, men report drinking beer about five times a month; women drink it a little less than three times a month.
o More adult college graduates and those with higher incomes report drinking beer than adults who did not graduate from high school and those with less income.

“Research suggests that there are health benefits from moderate consumption of beverage alcohol,” said Storey. “However, there is an enormous challenge in communicating the potential benefits of moderate alcohol consumption that does not encourage excess consumption among drinkers or encourage non-drinkers to drink alcohol. There are tremendous opportunities to help Americans understand the limits of moderate drinking that may provide some health benefits.”

The CFNAP survey was supported by a gift from the National Beer Wholesalers Association Education Foundation.

For more information on the forum “Beer: To Your Health!” see agresearch.umd.edu/CFNAP/Conferences/index.cfm .

*Corrao et al., 2004, 2000; Marmot, 2001; Mukamal and Rimm, 2001

Conclusions, Dietary Guidelines for Americans 2005

1. In middle-aged and older adults, a daily intake of one to two alcoholic beverages is associated with the lowest all-cause mortality.
2. Compared with nondrinkers, adults who consume one to two alcoholic beverages per day appear to have lower risk of coronary heart disease (CHD).
3. Compared with nondrinkers, women who consume one alcoholic beverage per day appear to have a slightly higher risk of breast cancer.
4. Relationships of alcohol consumption with major causes of death do not differ for middle-aged and elderly Americans. Among younger people, however, alcohol consumption appears to provide little, if any, health benefit; alcohol use among young adults is associated with a higher risk of traumatic injury and death.”

Source: University of Maryland

Explore further: Oil-swishing craze: Snake oil or all-purpose remedy?

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Cost of fighting warming 'modest,' says UN panel

Apr 13, 2014

The cost of keeping global warming in check is "relatively modest," but only if the world acts quickly to reverse the buildup of heat-trapping gases in the atmosphere, the head of the U.N.'s expert panel ...

Combating obesity with new Okinawan rice

Mar 27, 2014

In recent years, Okinawa has recorded the dubious distinction of having the highest obesity rate in Japan. Preventing obesity-related diseases is an urgent issue. Professor Hidetoshi Saze of the OIST Plant ...

Recommended for you

Suddenly health insurance is not for sale

Apr 18, 2014

(HealthDay)— Darlene Tucker, an independent insurance broker in Scotts Hill, Tenn., says health insurers in her area aren't selling policies year-round anymore.

Study: Half of jailed NYC youths have brain injury (Update)

Apr 18, 2014

About half of all 16- to 18-year-olds coming into New York City's jails say they had a traumatic brain injury before being incarcerated, most caused by assaults, according to a new study that's the latest in a growing body ...

Autonomy and relationships among 'good life' goals

Apr 18, 2014

Young adults with Down syndrome have a strong desire to be self-sufficient by living independently and having a job, according to a study into the meaning of wellbeing among young people affected by the disorder.

User comments : 1

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

lauran
not rated yet Oct 27, 2008
This is a very nice and informative post.
--------------
lauran

Alcohol Rehabilitation

More news stories

Filipino tests negative for Middle East virus

A Filipino nurse who tested positive for the Middle East virus has been found free of infection in a subsequent examination after he returned home, Philippine health officials said Saturday.

Study says we're over the hill at 24

(Medical Xpress)—It's a hard pill to swallow, but if you're over 24 years of age you've already reached your peak in terms of your cognitive motor performance, according to a new Simon Fraser University study.

NASA's space station Robonaut finally getting legs

Robonaut, the first out-of-this-world humanoid, is finally getting its space legs. For three years, Robonaut has had to manage from the waist up. This new pair of legs means the experimental robot—now stuck ...

Ex-Apple chief plans mobile phone for India

Former Apple chief executive John Sculley, whose marketing skills helped bring the personal computer to desktops worldwide, says he plans to launch a mobile phone in India to exploit its still largely untapped ...

Egypt archaeologists find ancient writer's tomb

Egypt's minister of antiquities says a team of Spanish archaeologists has discovered two tombs in the southern part of the country, one of them belonging to a writer and containing a trove of artifacts including reed pens ...

Airbnb rental site raises $450 mn

Online lodging listings website Airbnb inked a $450 million funding deal with investors led by TPG, a source close to the matter said Friday.