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Is moderate alcohol consumption beneficial?

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention states that more than 50 percent of American adults 18 years of age and older regularly consume alcohol. Meanwhile, Statistics Canada states that each person in Canada consumes roughly 116 liters of alcohol every year.

While overindulging is dangerous, drinking alcohol in moderation need not be perilous. In fact, moderate alcohol consumption can be good for you. Research by the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism reports that moderate drinkers live longer than nondrinkers and heavy consumers of alcohol. Moderate drinking is beneficial to the heart, resulting in a 40 to 60 percent decrease in heart disease risk. Moderate drinking constitutes up to two drinks each day for men and one drink per day for women.

As mentioned, overindulgence in alcohol can be dangerous and detrimental to individual health. But moderate alcohol consumption can provide a host of benefits, including:

* Increasing survivability of heart attacks;

* Reducing risk of stroke;

* Lowering risk for Alzheimer's Disease and senile dementias.

An analysis of 32 studies comparing nondrinkers and moderate consumers of alcohol found that moderate consumption is associated with a 33 to 56 percent lower incidence of diabetes and a 34 to 55 percent lower incidence of diabetes-related coronary heart disease.

Alcohol might also help individuals avoid painful arthritis. According to the European League Against Rheumatism, alcohol consumption is associated with a significantly reduced risk of developing arthritic conditions including rheumatoid arthritis, olosteoarthritis, reactive arthritis, psoriatic arthritis, and spondylarthropathy.

Overindulging in alcohol is unsafe and potentially very risky to an individual's long-term health. However, when consumed in moderation, alcoholic beverages can promote healthy living.