(NaturalNews) Drinking alcohol in excess is associated with a host of health problems, including an increased risk of certain cancers, liver disorders and even brain damage. But new research just published in the online version of the Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health, concludes up to just half a glass of wine daily can have remarkable health benefits. In fact, at least for men, drinking a small amount of wine may boost life expectancy by five years.
Dutch researchers at Wageningen University in the Netherlands studied a total of 1,373 randomly selected 50-year-old men whose cardiovascular health and life expectancy were monitored regularly between the years of 1960 and 2000. The scientists noted the research subjects' weight and diet and whether the men smoked and for how long. They also checked to see if the men had any serious illness. In addition, the research team documented how much alcohol the men drank, what type it was, and how long they drank. Then they assessed whether the men's alcohol consumption had any impact on their risk of dying from all causes -- including from cardiovascular disease and cerebrovascular disease.
Over the 40 years their health was monitored, an increasing number of the men drank alcohol. In fact, the proportion that drank alcohol almost doubled from 45 percent in 1960 to 86 percent in 2000. What's more, the proportion of those drinking wine soared from only two percent when the study began to 44 percent by 2000.
During the 4 decades long study, some 1,130 of the men died and about half these deaths were apparently caused by cardiovascular disease. But while analyzing the data, the researchers found that light long term alcohol consumption of all types -- up to 20 grams (g) a day -- boosted life expectancy life by around two extra years compared to drinking no alcohol at all. However, life expectancy was slightly lessened for the men who drank more than 20 g.
Another finding could justify wine lovers offering a toast to long life -- the men who drank only wine, and less than half a glass of it a day, lived approximately 2.5 years longer than those who drank beer and spirits. And they lived about five years longer than those who drank no alcohol at all.
According to a statement to the media, the researchers concluded that drinking wine in moderation was strongly associated with a lower risk of dying from coronary heart disease, cerebrovascular disease, and death from all causes. What's more, these results held true, no matter the socioeconomic status, diet and other lifestyle habits of the men.
Reference: Long term wine consumption is related to cardiovascular mortality and life expectancy independently of moderate alcohol intake: the Zutphen Study Online First J Epidemiol Community Health 2009; doi 10.1136/jech.2008.082198
Sherry Baker is a widely published writer whose work has appeared in Newsweek, Health, the Atlanta Journal and Constitution, Yoga Journal, Optometry, Atlanta, Arthritis Today, Natural Healing Newsletter, OMNI, UCLA's "Healthy Years" newsletter, Mount Sinai School of Medicine's "Focus on Health Aging" newsletter, the Cleveland Clinic's "Men's Health Advisor" newsletter and many others.