Sunday, March 22, 2009

Drinking with Friends may Help the Heart

Scientists do not know exactly why drinking alcohol can help us live longer, and benefit heart health. A new study shows that drinking alcohol, combined with spending time with friends has even greater benefits toward good health.

The research showed that Japanese men with good social support who consumed light to moderate alcohol had less risk of dying from heart disease.

Until now no one has studied the role of drinking with friends and heart health. “Collectively, these socializing customs may help to create a stress-free space for those persons surrounded by dozens of stresses, especially in the workplace," says Takeshi Tanigawa, a professor in the department of public health at Ehime University Graduate School of Medicine.

Hiroyasu Iso, a professor of public health at Osaka University and corresponding author for the study says, "In Japan, drinking is divided into two main patterns. One pattern is drinking alone and/or with family at home during the evening. Another pattern – especially for middle-aged businessmen – is social drinking with co-workers, friends, and neighbors. Social drinking is common."

The study authors think drinking with friends lowers stress, boosting the known benefits of light to moderate alcohol consumption …”so drink with good friends for health," advises Tanigawa.

Past studies show that happiness and vivaciousness lead to a longer life. Combining the company of good friends with a few drinks makes sense for better health.

The authors enrolled 19,356 men 40 to 69 years of age in the Japan Public Health Center-based Prospective Study for the study. They found that men who socialized and consumed light to moderate alcohol had less risk of heart disease and stroke compared to men who consumed alcohol but had less social support.

The study authors add that light to moderate drinking, combined with Karaoke adds benefit. Singing promotes deep breathing, and might even make us laugh more, also reducing stress and leading to better heart health.