I recently was reading this inforgrafics about excessive alcohol use. It is written:

No one should begin drinking or drink more frequently based on potential health benefits

I am surprised. Is there any potential health benefits of drinking alcohol?

To check this information, I made a little research and found this article of the Medical Daily: 7 Health Benefits Of Drinking Alcohol. Apparently, a moderate alcohol consumption (no more than 2 drinks a day for a men) can lower the risk of cardiovascular disease, lengthen the life, decrease the chances of demantia and diabetes, ...

But, for all of these facts, only one study is provided. So, I want to know if it is a well established fact that alcohol can have positive effects on health. And, if so, what is the corresponding dose to get these benefits?

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    $\begingroup$ After a quick googling - should be relevant: Piano. 2017. Alcohol’s Effects on the Cardiovascular System. Alcohol Res. (a review). See e.g. “The associations between drinking and CV diseases such as hypertension, coronary heart disease, stroke, peripheral arterial disease, and cardiomyopathy have been studied extensively and are outlined in this review. [...] Low-to-moderate alcohol use may mitigate certain mechanisms such as risk and hemostatic factors affecting atherosclerosis and inflammation $\endgroup$ – fileunderwater Dec 25 '19 at 12:31
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    $\begingroup$ The classic j shaped curve associated with alcohol consumption is discussed in this answer $\endgroup$ – De Novo Dec 25 '19 at 19:16
  • $\begingroup$ Based on your comment to @Willk I think this question (and the title in particular) would benefit from you editing it to be more focused. As currently written their answer seems like a valid answer as would an answer that focused on how alcohol can reduce spoilage. $\endgroup$ – tyersome Dec 27 '19 at 0:51
  • $\begingroup$ Alcohol can be used as a disinfectant, and can preserve water. I ate a bad egg in a Dehli restaurant in 97 and vomited for 8 days and survived on rehydration salts. On the 8th day, I went to buy a bottle a Gin, 30% alcohol or something, and I had a good dose of it straight. it must have gone through my body pretty vigorously because after the gin, a coal colored flegm came out the other way and within 24 hours of drinking the Gin i was 100% fine. perhaps it was even salmonella considering it was an egg. $\endgroup$ – aliential Jan 19 at 18:40

Alcohol has caloric value.

First worlders today have a wealth of high calorie food choices which make the caloric value of alcoholic drinks either irrelevant or detrimental. But it was not always this way. In circumstances where other caloric sources were limited or unpalatable, alcohol supplied calories needed to supply the energy demand of workers. Persons working energy-intensive jobs (such as field labor or factory work) have historically supplemented calories from food with calories from ethanol. The below excerpt discusses the dietary habits of metalworkers in the late 1800s.

Drink, Temperance and the Working Class in Nineteenth Century Germany

Despite the overall improvement in dietary standards of the previous two or three decades, the situation of these Manheim workers suggests that alcohol remained an essential part of the working-class diet. If provided necessary calories in palatable form. The sharp flavor of alcoholic beverages could add spice to otherwise monotonous fare, providing a sense of warmth and fullness even when meals were cold and unsatisfying. Perhaps most important, alcohol provided energy in concentrated form. Alcohol, whether in the form of beer or spirits, enabled workers to reduce the sheer quantity of food that had to be gotten down each day. The distinguished physiologist Max Gruber calculated that a worker who consumed even a 10th of a liter of schnapps with the meal could come up with no energy loss, reduces potato and rye bread consumption but some 288 and 122 g respectively.”Try eating a kilo of black bread or two or more kilos of potatoes day after day”, Gruber told his well fed middle-class readers in 1888, “and you’ll discover what a relief it can be to substitute a pungent and stimulating beverage for a 10th of this mass”.

The health benefit of alcohol consumption here would be that of not starving in situations of high caloric expenditure. calories are concentrated as compared to carbohydrates and distilled spirits also have an indefinite shelf life - not true of grains and potatoes.

  • $\begingroup$ My question was more about health and disease rather than the nutritional aspect. $\endgroup$ – Pierre Dec 26 '19 at 11:43
  • $\begingroup$ Also, I would expect that since beverage alcohol is produced by fermentation, the beverage would have fewer calories than the grain it is made from, since some of the energy would have been used by the yeast. That's even before considering that in most such beverages, a lot of the original material is often discarded as waste, or used as fertilizer or animal food. $\endgroup$ – jamesqf Dec 26 '19 at 19:37
  • $\begingroup$ @jamesqf - you are right that there is a net loss of calories on converting starch calories to alcohol. In exchange you get alcohol calories that will not be used by fungi or rodent pests. For Pierre - not starving is a positive effect on health last time I checked. $\endgroup$ – Willk Dec 27 '19 at 0:27
  • $\begingroup$ The energy provided by ethanol provides no other form than heating which is typically not needed because it is in abundance already. $\endgroup$ – David Jonsson Sep 22 '20 at 8:07

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