ALLERGY, RESPIRATORY
'Safe' Ozone Levels May Not Be for Some
Using Music and Sports to Improve Kids' Asthma
Climate Change Could Sting Allergy, Asthma Sufferers
ALTERNATIVE MEDICINE
Acupuncture Cuts Dry Mouth in Cancer Patients
Acupuncture May Ease Depression During Pregnancy
Health Tip: Anticipating Acupuncture
ANIMAL CARE
'Comfort Dogs' Come to Emotional Rescue
Beware of Dog Bites
Rest Easy. When It Comes to Swine Flu, Your Pet Is Safe
BONES & JOINTS
New Clues to How Fish Oils Help Arthritis Patients
Chronic Low Back Pain Is on the Rise
Rheumatoid Arthritis Rising Among U.S. Women
CANCER
Acupuncture May Help Relieve Polycystic Ovary Syndrome
Vitamin E, Selenium and Soy Won't Prevent Prostate Cancer
Antioxidants Pose No Melanoma Threat
CAREGIVING
ER Less Likely to Diagnose Stroke in Younger Folks
Rapid Infant Weight Gain Linked to Childhood Obesity
Injected Medication Errors a Major Problem
CIRCULATORY SYSTEM
Varicose Veins May Mask Larger Problem
Vitamins Do Older Women Little Good
Support Network May Play Role in Benefits of Drinking
COSMETIC
Wrinkle Fillers Need Better Label Warnings: FDA Panel
The Acne Drug Accutane More Than Doubles Depression Risk
Study Evaluates Laser Therapies for Hair Removal
DENTAL, ORAL
Rheumatoid Arthritis May Harm Gums
Gummy Bears Join Cavity Fight
Gum Care Helps Control Type 2 Diabetes and Its Complications
DIABETES
Older Diabetics With Depression Face Higher Death Rate
Drug May Not Help Diabetes-Related Eye Damage
Study Shows Turmeric May Prevent Type 2 Diabetes
DIET, NUTRITION
Drinking Your Way to Health? Perhaps Not
Fatty Acid in Olive Oil Wards Off Hunger
Pesticides and How to Affordably Eat Organic or Reduce Pesticide Consumption
DISABILITIES
Could Your Cell Phone Help Shield You From Alzheimer's?
Review Finds Marijuana May Help MS Patients
ENVIRONMENTAL HEALTH
Rainy Areas in U.S. Show Higher Autism Rates
Stomach Germ May Protect Against Asthma
Bed Bugs Bring No Disease Danger
EYE CARE, VISION
When Corks Fly, Watch the Eyes
Brain Pressure More Likely to Cause Vision Loss in Men
FDA Goes After Unapproved Eye Washes, Skin Ointments
FITNESS
Community Exercise Programs Boost Seniors' Strength
Being Active an Hour a Day Puts Brakes on Weight Gain
Walk Long, Slow and Often to Help the Heart
GASTROINTESTINAL PROBLEMS
Soothing Imagery May Help Rid Some Kids of Stomach Pain
Peppermint Oil, Fiber Can Fight Irritable Bowel
Japanese Herbals May Ease Gastro Woes
GENERAL HEALTH
Lower Vitamin D Levels in Blacks May Up Heart Risks
Most Women Struggle With Rising Health Care Costs
Bacterial Infections May Succumb to Honey
HEAD & NECK
Many Children Will Outgrow Headaches
Ski Helmets Encouraged for All
Zen May Thicken Brain, Thwart Pain
HEALTH & TECHNOLOGY
Combating Myths About Seasonal Allergies
Imaging Sheds Light on How Acupuncture Works
Using Light Therapy to Silence Harmful Brain Activity
HEARING
Noise Hurts Men's Hearing More, Study Shows
Summer Sounds Can Lead to Hearing Loss
HEART & CARDIOVASCULAR
Soy Protein Doesn't Lower Cholesterol
An Apple a Day May Help Keep Heart Disease Away
Heart Disease May Be Prevented By Taking Fish Oils, Study Shows
INFECTIOUS DISEASE
Grapefruit Compound Inhibits Hepatitis C Virus
Chinese 'Devil Dung' Plant Could Be a Swine Flu Fighter
Poor Restroom Cleaning Causes Cruise-Ship Sickness
INFERTILITY
Obesity May Affect Fertility in Young Womene
KID'S HEALTH
Help Your Kids Stay Active
Mom and Baby Alike May Benefit From Exercise
School Meals Need to Get Healthier
MEN'S HEALTH
Exercise May Prevent Prostate Cancer: Study Shows
Low Vitamin D Levels May Boost Men's Heart Attack Risk
Sunlight May Help Protect Men From Kidney Cancer
MENTAL HEALTH
Worries About Weight Are Tied to Teen Suicide Tries
Environmental Chemicals May Affect Male Reproduction
Breast-Fed Baby May Mean Better Behaved Child
PAIN
Alleviating Rheumatoid Arthritis
Tai Chi May Help Ease Fibromyalgia
Acupuncture, Real or Fake, Eases Back Pain
PHYSICAL THERAPY
PREGNANCY
Alternative Treatments May Boost IVF Success
Mom's Extra Pregnancy Pounds May Raise Child's Heart Risks
Before Conceiving, Take Folic Acid for One Full Year
SENIORS
The Healthy Habits of Centenarians
Vitamin D May Help Keep Aging at Bay
Rapid Weight Loss in Seniors Signals Higher Dementia Risk
SEXUAL HEALTH
SLEEP DISORDERS
Meditation May Help Put Primary Insomnia to Bed
Exercising Throat Muscles May Relieve Sleep Apnea
6 to 8 Hours of Shut-Eye Is Optimal for Health
WOMEN'S HEALTH
Sugary Colas Tied to Gestational Diabetes
Varicose Veins May Mask Larger Problem
Green Tea May Help Treat Uterine Fibroids
Add your Article

Drinking Your Way to Health? Perhaps Not

(HealthDay News) -- Just about every month -- if not every week -- a new study emerges touting the health benefits to be gained from a daily glass of wine or a pint of dark beer.

The benefits related to cardiovascular health have become well-known. A study released in mid-July, for instance, found that moderate alcohol consumption reduces the risk of cardiovascular disease in women by increasing the amount of "good" cholesterol in the bloodstream and reducing blood sugar levels.

But other studies have linked a daily drink, most often wine, to reduced risk of dementia, bone loss and physical disabilities related to old age. Wine also has been found to increase life expectancy and provide potential protection against some forms of cancer, including esophageal cancer and lymphoma.

But don't invest in that case of Pinot noir just yet.

Experts with the American Cancer Society and the American Heart Association say that though these studies do show some benefits to moderate drinking, the health risks from alcohol consumption far outweigh the potential rewards.

Drinking any alcohol at all is known to increase your risk for contracting a number of types of cancer, said Susan Gapstur, vice president of epidemiology for the American Cancer Society. These include cancers of the mouth, pharynx, larynx, esophagus, liver, colon/rectum and breast.

"At the end of the day, if you are at very high risk for cancer, you might want to limit your alcohol consumption even further," Gapstur said. "It's a lifestyle modification you can make, and we don't have as many lifestyle modifications for preventing cancer as we do for coronary heart disease."

There also are other health risks from moderate drinking, including liver damage and accidents caused by impaired reflexes, said Dr. Jennifer Mieres, director of nuclear cardiology at the New York University School of Medicine and an American Heart Association spokeswoman.

The health benefits from drinking generally are related to the antioxidants and anti-inflammatories found in red wines and dark beers, Mieres said, but those substances can be found in a number of different fruits and vegetables.

"When it comes to disease prevention, you're better off changing your diet to include fruits and vegetables and get your antioxidants and anti-inflammatories from natural sources," she said.

For example, people can get resveratrol -- the antioxidant found in red wine that's believed to provide most of the drink's health benefits -- from drinking grape juice just as well as from drinking wine, Mieres said.

"For people that don't drink, not drinking is important," Mieres said. "You can get the same benefits of drinking from leading a heart-healthy lifestyle. To me, it's not worth the risk to start drinking. But for people who enjoy a glass of red wine or enjoy drinking, the key is to stick to the definition of moderation," she said.

Moderate drinking is defined as one drink a day for women and two drinks a day for men. What counts as one drink are:

* 12 ounces of regular beer or wine cooler
* 8 ounces of malt liquor
* 5 ounces of wine
* 1.5 ounces of 80-proof distilled spirits or liquor

Drinking anything more than that on a daily basis is known to lead to a host of health problems that can reduce your life expectancy, Mieres and Gapstur said.

"I think the take-home message is, if you don't drink, don't start to help protect yourself from coronary heart disease because there are so many other things you can do," Gapstur said. "If you already drink, you might want to limit your consumption."

Though the studies touting the positive health effects of alcohol are scientifically accurate, they also appear to play into people's desires for quick fixes to complex problems, Mieres said.

"To prevent heart disease, 50 percent of the work has to come from you," she said. "Prevention is a big piece, and you have to be accountable. You have to make lifestyle changes, and that's very tough to do. People look for easy ways to get heart-healthy benefits, and drinking is an easy way to do that. It's a known human tendency: Let's find an easy way out that doesn't involve a lot of thought or work.

SOURCES: Susan Gapstur, Ph.D., M.P.H., vice president, epidemiology, American Cancer Society; Jennifer Mieres, M.D., associate professor and director, nuclear cardiology, New York University School of Medicine, New York City Published on: October 18, 2009