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Raise a Daily Glass to Boost Overall Health

Some people are sworn teetotalers while others indulge well beyond what’s considered safe. Yet for those in the happy medium known as moderate drinking—for men, that’s up to two alcoholic drinks a day and for women, that’s one—research studies point to many health benefits, from your heart to your bones.

A lot of research points to heart health benefits from red wine in particular—because of the unique antioxidants in the peel of the grapes. But other studies show that moderate drinking of any libation has positive effects on bone health, especially important to prevent falls and deadly fractures. Studies done with elderly participants have shown greater bone mineral density and a lower risk of fractures among regular moderate drinkers than among abstainers. Moderate drinking, like calcium, vitamin D and taking various medications, seems to lower the risk of developing osteoporosis, the bone thinning disease that makes breaks more likely. When scientists looked at the results of 15 different studies on diabetes, they found that moderate drinkers are less likely to have type 2 diabetes than are abstainers. A study in France found moderate drinkers to have a 75 percent lower risk for Alzheimer's disease and an 80 percent lower risk for senile dementia. Other global studies found reduced risks of kidney and thyroid cancer. In general, moderate drinkers live longer. You can raise a glass to that finding.

Remember that the key word is moderate. One drink equals a 12-ounce beer, 5-ounces of red wine or a drink with one-ounce of liquor, like vodka. If, at the other end of the spectrum, alcohol abuse is a problem it will not only negate all the health benefits, but also recreate a rash of health problems, from your liver to cognitive function. Talk to your doctor or your loved one’s doctor about the healthiest approach, one that makes the most sense for your unique circumstances.