Go Ahead, Drink Up for New Year's: Study Shows Moderate Drinking Boosts Immune System

Jan 01, 2014 10:21 AM EST | Jordan Ecarma (j.ecarma@autoworldnews.com)

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New Year's Eve Drinks

A small amount of any kind of alcohol can boost your immunity. (Photo : Flickr Creative Commons)

Research shows that a New Year's resolution to drink more could be one way to go. But only if you're a teetotaler.

A study from the Oregon Health & Science University has found that alcohol may boost the immune system and fight infection.

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According to researchers, those who drink alcohol in moderation have a "decreased risk of death--along with better overall health and cardiovascular function--compared to those who didn't imbibe at all," TIME reported.

The university team used a group of monkeys with immune systems similar to humans to conduct the study, which took place over a 14-month period.

The monkeys were vaccinated for smallpox and divided into two groups, one of which was given water with 4 percent ethanol and one with access only to sugar water. (The monkeys were also given pure water and food).

While the "heavy-drinking" monkeys had the worst response to the vaccine, those that were drinking alcohol moderately responded best, according to TIME.

All the monkeys had comparable responses to the vaccine before the experiment, so the researchers came to the conclusion that "moderate drinking significantly bolstered the monkeys' immune systems."

The Dietary Guidelines for Americans defines moderate alcohol consumption as one drink daily for women and two drinks for men, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website.

"This definition is referring to the amount consumed on any single day and is not intended as an average over several days," the CDC noted.

The guidelines don't recommend any drinking, citing such factors as increased risk of breast cancer, violence, drowning and injuries from falls and motor vehicle crashes.

While drinking can up the risk of colon and breast cancer, moderate alcoholic consumption boosts cardiovascular health, according to the Harvard School of Public Health. Wine, beer and spirits all seem to have the same health benefits, the school's website said.

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