Protect your heart by moderate drinking

Drinking small amounts may boost levels of a hormone that is believed to help protect against artery disease. The findings could help explain some of the cardiovascular benefits of moderate drinking.

"People consuming alcohol in moderate amounts may have a healthier hormone status," Dr. Henk F.J. Hendriks at TNO Nutrition and Food Research in the Netherlands told Reuters Health.

"The implication of this piece of research is that it further substantiates the notion that moderate alcohol consumption is consistent with a healthy lifestyle," Hendriks said.

Many studies have shown that moderate drinking is associated with a reduced risk of cardiovascular disease. Moderate tippling may lower the risk of artery disease through its effects on inflammation, blood clotting and on the way the body metabolizes fats in the blood.

There is growing evidence that sex hormones also may be involved in the development artery disease. For example, 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.

Hendriks and his colleagues set out to measure the effect of moderate drinking on levels of DHEAS and other sex hormones, reports

According to "While drinking small amounts of almost any kind of alcohol may be beneficial in terms of cardiovascular protection, we all know that there are many other ways to achieve a similar benefit, including aerobic exercise and increased consumption of fruits and vegetables," he said. "And, of course, there are some individuals who cannot and should not drink alcohol at all."

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