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Tuesday, 21 August, 2001, 11:24 GMT 12:24 UK
Can alcohol be good for you?
People who drink alcohol feel healthier than those who abstain, scientists in Spain have found.
A study of 19,500 adults found moderate beer and spirits drinkers were as "healthy" as those who drank small amounts of wine - which for some time has been thought to have health benefits.
The Spanish finding is in direct contradiction to work carried out in Nordic countries which linked alcohol consumption with poorer health - but researchers say this may be down to the fact that in Spain alcohol is consumed at mealtimes.
Experts agree that while a small amount of alcohol can benefit cardiovascular health, large amounts can cause conditions such as cirrhosis of the liver.
Can drinking can be good you for you? Is it just a matter of how much you drink?
This debate is now closed. Read a selection of your comments below.
Nina Nayee, Malaysia
To quote Homer Simpson, "Beer, the cause of, and solution to, all of lifes problems".
I can't see what the fuss about alcohol is about. Many things are good for you, such as regular exercise. It seems the latest research provides a wonderful to go on drinking. You only have to look at our culture of alcohol-related violence and sickness to know that the research is NOT true!
Jim Hubbell, Texas, USA
I have to admit I have a problem with alcohol.
It's paying so much tax on it.
Apart from that, I'm convinced that worrying about drinking a glass of wine or two does you more damage that the alcohol in the wine itself....
A little of what is bad for you does you the world of good.
It can't be good for you. I feel absolutely terrible this morning.
I find that drinking alcohol is often the only way to endure boring parties and work functions. After all, nothing drags on more slowly than a social occasion when you're staying sober and everyone else is having a tipple.
My granddad swore by having one glass of wine with lunch, and one glass with dinner - he would only drink wine that was free of unnatural ingredients, mind. Anyway, he did that every day of his life, was fit as a fiddle, and lived to 93!
Now, which side of the story is true and correct? As read in the weekly newspaper of Nepal, it says alcohol destroys the enzyme system - the most important cell in the human body. And to drink alcohol is to drink arsenic, cyanide and strychnine. And the alcoholic drink causes diseases like esophagitis, assmitis, peptic ulcer, colon disease, rectum cancer etc etc. Also it causes damage in the intestine and it effects our heart. Let us know the right advice, because I am really mixed up!
Small amount of alcohol with delicious fat-free food would work good for the body.
A wise man once said, " A herd of buffalo is only as fast as the slowest one, this goes for brain cells as well. Whilst drinking alcohol is said to kill brain cells, the weakest ones will be picked off first - leaving the strong ones to work faster". Cheers!
I think drinking is not bad, but if you make it a habit, it's really bad both for the person and the family. Moreover I have seen people taking alcohol in the presence of their children which I am sure makes a bad impact on them, as they learn everything from their elders. So one should think a lot and try not to get addicted to it.
A lot of alcohol research is sponsored by companies with interests in that industry. It would be nice if journalists checked up to find out who sponsored the research rather than re-gurgling the many "alcohol is healthy" press releases. Alcohol is the biggest killer of males under 29 and here is a story asking if it is good for you?
A day without wine is a day without sunshine - enjoy! Life is too short to quibble
What on earth is Claire on about "Apart from anything else, alcohol is extremely high in calories"? What? Alcohol is not high in calories (beer can be but alcohol isn't), and even IF it was what is the problem with that? It's like saying rice is bad for you as it's extremely high in calories. Sheesh!
Phew! After all that I could murder a pint.
Alison Little, Greece and Korea
As the great Homer J Simpson once said, "Alcohol, the cause of and the cure for all life's problems!"
One of the first things that is impaired when we drink is our judgement. So how can drinkers say for sure that they feel healthier? Perhaps it's just the drink talking?
If you enjoy a drink to relax after work - fine. If you NEED a drink then you should think again.
Drew Mara-McKay, UK/Canada
Sorry - I can't agree with the Spanish report. Apart from anything else, alcohol is extremely high in calories, and even a small amount affects one's judgement. 20 years ago, when lunchtime drinking was the norm at work, everyone was practically asleep at their desks in the afternoon! I know that I feel 100% better now that I drink a couple of times a year, rather than when I tippled on a regular basis.
You've no idea what a nightmare it is. It requires constant vigilance for the rest of your life. And if you're an alcoholic, you're always an alcoholic. You can't heal yourself, you can only choose whether you 'practice' or not. Other 'normal' people who have never experienced alcoholism either in themselves, or in others, simply can't understand. So I wouldn't worry about the health effects of a few drinks. Compared to this nightmare it's nothing!
To say that you don't believe the report on the grounds that the Quran bans drinking (Ahmed, UK) is like saying that sex is bad for you because Catholic priests abstain from it and that pork is bad for you because Jews and Muslims don't eat it. Not everything that a religion forbids is necessarily bad for you - it may be to teach you a different lesson.
A little of what you fancy can be very good thing, specially if someone else is buying.
James Blair, UK
I drink a moderate amount of beer every day; but I exercise and eat well. And, unlike some teetotallers, I do not smoke, drive a car, or ride a bicycle in traffic, any of which is far more daUKngerous than having a few bottles of beer at the end of the day.
What the survey about Spanish drinkers failed to mention is that any good the drinking does to the health is totally nullified by their constant smoking - even in this office!
Isn't the old story? "Everything in moderation". Drinking chilled wine while cooking on the barbecue is a great pastime - very relaxing!
Shaun Prior, Scotland
I'm a big believer that anything you use or consume can kill you. We see more focus on the things that the general populace do or use, like drinking, smoking or using a mobile phone - none of these are good for you, apparently. Have there been studies into excessive eating of lettuce or consumption of lemonade? If there have, you don't hear about them - maybe we should! As for drinking, it's never done me any harm, hic!
I am a Muslim, and according to Koranic Law alcohol is forbidden to all Muslims. It is bad for you. Period. This study is a complete farce.
I don't believe a word of it.
I cannot agree that alcohol is good. Anyone who wants proof, should count the bruises when my drunk ex husband and I had a fight the other night. How many women have to suffer because someone likes a drink? He can sober up and go out - I have to wait till the bruises go.
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