A recent study out of France shows those who drink low or moderate amounts of alcohol are healthier than those who drink more — or who don't drink at all.
In this study, "moderate" means between one and three glasses of alcohol a day.
In this study, "moderate" means between one and three glasses of alcohol a day. iStockphoto.com
We liked the sounds of that. But before you pop open that Bordeaux you've been saving and toast "à votre santé," heed this: This study doesn't necessarily mean it's the imbibing that makes you healthy.
Consider instead that moderate alcohol intake may be an indicator of a higher social level, better general health and lower cardiovascular risk, says lead author of the study Dr. Boris Hansel, an endocrinologist in Paris.
"Our data suggest that it is clearly premature to promote alcohol consumption to decrease the risk to suffer cardiovascular events," Hansel tells Shots in an e-mail. "Obviously, we need more studies to ensure that alcohol intake protects against cardiovascular disease."
Essentially, correlation doesn't mean causation.
In the study, published in the European Journal of Clinical Nutrition, researchers evaluated all sorts of health data on about 150,000 people and categorized them into four different groups based on their alcohol consumption. Researchers put former drinkers in a fifth group. "Moderate" alcohol consumption means one to three glasses per day and "low" means less than one glass a day.
This study is the latest in a growing body of research addressing the possible health benefits of alcohol. Previous studies have connected moderate alcohol consumption with a decreased risk of heart disease.
But Hansel says we need more studies to definitively prove alcohol intake protects against cardiovascular disease.
For now, Hansel says, if you're going to drink a moderate amount of alcohol, do it for pleasure. We can drink to that.