How were the benefits of alcohol discovered?

Dr. Michael Roizen, MD
Internal Medicine
The connection between alcohol and reduced arterial aging -- the so-called "red wine factor" -- was first observed in France. The southern French, with their traditional diet heavy in fatty cheeses, butter, and red meats, had rates of cardiovascular disease that were surprisingly lower than would have been predicted. The hypothesis was that all the red wine the French used to accompany their saturated-fat-laden food was helping to protect their arteries from fatty plaque buildup. The hypothesis has now been modified. The French do not consume more saturated and trans fat than Americans, because the French use nine-inch plates, and, more important, eat small servings. Americans use eleven or thirteen-inch plates, and our portions are almost twice the size of French portions. And that's only our first serving: We may have two or three. Also, Americans eat a lot of trans fats, and, until the last few years, this was rare in France.

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Alcohol & Health

Alcohol & Health

Drinking moderate amounts of alcohol daily, such as two 12-ounce beers or two 5-ounce glasses of wine, offers some health benefits, especially for the heart. It can reduce your risk of developing heart disease and peripheral vascu...

lar disease, lowers your risk of developing gallstones, and possibly reduces your risk of stroke and diabetes. Anything more than moderate drinking can lead to serious health problems, however, including strokes; pancreatitis; cancer of the liver, pancreas, mouth, larynx or esophagus; heart-muscle damage; high blood pressure; and cirrhosis of the liver. 

Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.