When alcohol consumption can be healthy

With religious views mostly an undertone factor, Doctors and medical practitioners in Nigeria usually discourage alcohol consumption, light or heavy. But studies have shown that moderate consumption can be beneficial after all.

Experts say light or moderate intake of alcohol can be beneficial to health.

With religious views mostly an undertone factor, Doctors and medical practitioners in Nigeria usually discourage alcohol consumption, light or heavy. They say it poses high health risks, which includes diabetes, hypertension, kidney damage and psychiatric conditions.

While they may be right, a comprehensive systematic review and meta-analysis published in 2011 says light to moderate consumption of alcohol appears to have some protective effects after all, according to a Brain Blogger report.

The study, which shows the scientific evidence of the beneficial effects of red wine, compares alcohol drinkers with non-drinkers for the outcomes of incidence and overall mortality from cardiovascular disease, coronary heart disease, and stroke; and it shows that moderate alcohol consumption (up to 1 drink a day) is consistently associated with a reduction in the risk of all outcomes.

Heavy alcohol consumption is however said to be associated with higher risks for stroke occurrence and mortality.

Another meta-analysis, which also reviewed the effect of experimentally controlled alcohol consumption, compliments that moderate consumption of alcohol promotes a number of changes known to be cardio-protective.

For example, it increases circulating levels of High-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol, Apo-lipoprotein A1, and Adiponectin and significantly decreased Fibrinogen levels.

HDL cholesterol is referred to as the “Good one.” According to WebMD, ‘HDL cholesterol is the well-behaved "good cholesterol." This friendly scavenger cruises the bloodstream. As it does, it removes harmful bad cholesterol from where it doesn't belong. High HDL levels reduce the risk for heart disease - but low levels increase the risk.’

The analysis further shows that, the association of alcohol consumption with stroke is more complex as it differs by stroke subtype. It shows that light to moderate alcohol consumption is associated with a slightly reduced risk of ischemic stroke but higher risk of haemorrhagic stroke, while heavy alcohol consumption increases the risk of total, ischemic, and haemorrhagic stroke.

It has also been shown in Clinical studies that alcohol may have neuroprotective effects in traumatic brain injury.

In traumatic brain injury patients, low to moderate blood alcohol content has been associated with lower injury severity, reduced in-hospital mortality rates and increased 5-year survival rates compared to those with no or high blood alcohol concentration at the time of injury.

These outcomes have been reinforced by experimental animal studies and have also discovered that administration of a low to moderate dose of ethanol after stroke may also reduce brain infarction and improve functional outcome.

Given these outcomes, it is however safe to say low alcohol consumption is encouraged, as it has been proven to be valuable to health. But it is not advisable that people who suffer any type of stroke go near alcohol at all. As stated above, alcohol intake, light or heavy, can be fatal for a stroke patient.

It should also be noted that heavy alcohol consumption can be very damaging to health.


Unblock notifications in browser settings.

Eyewitness? Submit your stories now via social or:

Email: eyewitness@pulse.com.gh