There’s a lot of information out there about how alcohol affects our bodies and the aging process, which makes it hard to keep your facts straight. Though most research discusses the negative effects of drinking, the latest studies have found evidence that moderate drinking may actually be good for you. Two large studies published in the journal Circulation link low-to-moderate alcohol consumption—for men, that’s about two drinks daily—to reduced risk of heart attack or abdominal aortic aneurysm (AAA), a life-threatening flaw in the heart’s primary artery.
In one study, researchers used data from 52 countries, comparing 12,000 cases of first heart attacks with 15,500 similar people who did not experience a heart attack. They found that current alcohol use was linked to a 13% lower risk of heart attack, on average, in almost all regions. It’s important to recognize however that this positive effect was diminished once alcohol consumption tipped beyond four drinks per week. In fact, having six or more drinks within 24 hours was associated with a 40% increased risked of heart attack.
In the other study, researchers tracked 70,000 men and women over the age of 45 for 14 years. The participants reported their alcohol consumption in food frequency questionnaires. The results? Drinking four to six glasses of alcohol per week was associated with a 20% lower risk of AAA for men, compared to drinking less than one or two glasses per week. Beer and wine consumption, in particular, was associated with lower risk.
The takeaway: While you shouldn’t take up drinking if you don’t already indulge, don’t feel bad about having a drink or two. If you keep consumption in check, you won’t wreck your health.