The U.S. Nurses Study Findings on Alcohol

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The U.S. Nurses Study Findings on Alcohol

Their conclusion is maybe

By Elizabeth Hanink, RN, BSN, PHN
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Does heavy alcohol use correlate with an increase chance of developing breast cancer? Does moderate use of that same alcohol help ward off heart disease? It is going to be a while before the picture is crystal clear. But two recent reports gleaned just from nurses provide some interesting data.

Pour me a glass

Results for the U.S. Nurses’ Study suggest that for women (the study only includes female nurses), regular and moderate consumption of alcohol during middle age may relate to good health overall. Study participants who drank moderate amounts of alcohol had a better chance of having no major chronic disease such as diabetes or heart disease. Upon reaching 70 they had no major physical or mental impairments, including mental health limitations — what the authors of the study refer to a “successful aging.” Women who drank five to seven days a week (5 grams of alcohol per day = less than six ounces of beer or approx. 2 ounces of wine or half an ounce of liquor) had an almost50 percent greater chance of good overall health when compared to women who did not consume alcohol at all.

Wait, not so fast

Contrast that information with results, also from the Nurses’ Study, which indicate that women who consume 30 grams of alcohol per day (two drinks) were much more likely to develop breast cancer than women who never drank. Drinking at an early age may be a contributing factor as might binge drinking. Timing and amount seem to be everything.  

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