Cheers! Moderate Alcohol Consumption Boosts Immunity - The New Indian Express

Cheers! Moderate Alcohol Consumption Boosts Immunity

Published: 19th December 2013 11:43 AM

Last Updated: 19th December 2013 11:47 AM

Several studies have shown that moderate alcohol consumption -- such as a glass of wine with dinner -- does improve cardiovascular function and overall health.

Now add the immune system to that list.

A new study claims that moderate alcohol consumption bolsters the body's immune system and helps it fight infections, also improving its ability to respond to vaccines.

For their study, researchers at the Oregon Health & Science University picked the rhesus macaques, one of the best-known species of old world monkeys who have an immune system very similar to humans. They trained a group of 12 monkeys to consume alcohol -- a 4 percent ethanol mixture -- of their own accord.

They vaccinated the monkeys against small pox and separated the animals into two groups -- those with access to the 4 percent ethanol and those with access to sugar water.

“Like humans, rhesus macaques showed highly variable drinking behaviour. Some animals drank large volumes of ethanol, while others drank in moderation,” said Ilhem Messaoudi, the lead author of the paper.

The monkeys' voluntary ethanol consumption segregated them into two groups -- heavy drinkers and moderate drinkers.

The two groups responded in very different ways to the vaccination. The heavy drinkers showed greatly diminished vaccine responses compared with the control group of monkeys who drank the sugar water.

But, interestingly, the moderate-drinking monkeys displayed enhanced responses to the vaccine compared to the control group. 

“It seems that some of the benefits that we know of from moderate drinking might be related in some way to our immune system being boosted by that alcohol consumption,” said senior researcher Kathy Grant.

So here is a piece of advise. 

“If you have a family history of alcohol abuse, or are at risk, or have been an abuser in the past, we are not recommending you go out and drink to improve your immune system,” Messaoudi said.

The findings of the research were published in the scientific journal Vaccine.

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