We all know that drinking beer makes you a better person, but did you also know that beer can make you live forever? Well, it probably can’t [research pending], but it turns out beer may be healthier for you than you thought. (See, you were right about drinking all these years.)
As if you needed even more reasons to drink beer, this series of articles about beer and health takes a look at some of the science behind why a beer a day really can keep the doctor away. And to kick things off, we’ll be digging into what may have been the first woman-centric study that focused on providing evidence for whether beer, wine or liquor is most beneficial to women.
(Hmmm, I wonder which alcoholic beverage will come out on top…)
In 2002, Harvard (the school) released a beverage-specific study that compared the effects of beer, wine and liquor with respect to blood pressure in women. The results of this study of nearly 71,000 women showed that the consumption of beer (more so than wine or liquor) helped reduce the risk of hypertension, a.k.a. high blood pressure.
“We did find that light-beer drinking [1 drink or less per day on average] was protective against chronic hypertension. Cross-sectional data from Japan also suggest a protective blood pressure effect among exclusive beer drinking compared with drinking other beverages.”
That’s right, when it comes to blood health, beer beat out wine and hard liquor, and now there’s the science to prove it. In fairness though, having at least some ethyl-alcoholic beverage on a daily basis (beer, wine or the old hoocharino) was shown to reduce the risk of hypertension more so than with those who didn’t drink at all.
“Among women who consumed on average 0.26 to 0.50 drink per day, the risk of developing hypertension was lower by 14% compared with nondrinkers.”
Take that, teetotalers!
Ok, there is one caveat: the risk of high blood pressure among women tended to increase with over 1 drink on average per day, no matter the type of alcoholic beverage. The workaround? Simple: Rollover drinks.
Didn’t have a drink on Monday? Just roll that thang over to Tuesday. No drink on Tuesday? You’re slackin’, but not to worry, humpday equals triple-fisting day.
I’m sorta half-joking, but the Harvard study actually did look at “episodic drinking” as well, and found that women who consumed “at least 12 drinks over 1 to 3 days… were not at increased risk of chronic hypertension.” However, risk “was increased among women who drank more than 1.5 drinks per day for at least 5 days per week”. Translation: the occasional binge doesn’t appear to rocket your blood pressure; it’s the consistent excess that’ll get ya.
So why all the fuss about blood pressure? Well, according to WebMD— the most authoritative source for medical information outside of Wikipedia— high blood pressure can lead to stroke and heart dis-ease, and turns out that stress is a major cause of hypertension.
That’s where booze comes in.
Alcohol (ethanol) is a relaxant. A mood lightener. A worry reducer. And it appears that beer has even greater hypertension preventing powers than that of wine or liquor. So the take away seems to be that it’s OK to have a drink (better yet, research suggests that it’s actually healthy for you), but know your healthy limits, which for the ladies appears to be an average of one a day.
Oh yeah- and the other take away? Beer wins. Again.
P.S. Almost forgot about my imbibing brothers. Well fellas, your healthy drinking target seems to be around two per day. Sorry- didn’t do much research on that, but let’s just roll with it.
Sláinte! (To your health)
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Hi, I’m Dan: Beer Editor for Beer Syndicate, Beer and Drinking Blogger, Gold Medal-Winning Homebrewer, Beer Reviewer, AHA Member, Beer Judge, Shameless Beer Promoter, and Beer Traveler. Interests? Beer.