Drink, moderately, to good health
May 24, 2004 - Doctors in the Netherlands have found that moderate drinking may boost levels of a hormone that is believed to help protect against artery disease. "People consuming alcohol in moderate amounts may have a healthier hormone status," Dr. Henk F.J. Hendriks at TNO Nutrition and Food Research.
A separate report from Kaiser Permanente report shows that people who drink moderately report better health than people who don't drink at all - and the benefits are especially strong in women.
"Women are more sensitive to alcohol," including the apparent benefits of moderate drinking, said Carla Green, a sociologist who conducted the study for Kaiser Permanente. Women tend toward body fat, while men tend toward body water, she said. That tends to boost the concentration of blood alcohol in women, compared with men, who can dilute that alcohol in the body's water.
The research in the Netherlands supports growing evidence that sex hormones also may be involved in the development artery disease. Some studies suggest that high levels of a hormone called DHEAS, or dehydroepiandrosterone, may help keep blood vessels healthy. Levels of DHEAS naturally decline with age.
In Hendriks' study, those who drank regular beer for three weeks showed blood levels of DHEAS that were almost 17% higher than after drinking nonalcoholic beer. The increase in DHEAS was similar in men and women. In contrast, levels of testosterone dropped about 7% in men after drinking beer. Women's testosterone levels stayed steady throughout the study.
Levels of HDL cholesterol, which is associated with better cardiovascular health, increased about 12 percent in both men and women.