Good news: women who drink beer are healthier and happier, according to science
Now, we could have told you that women who like to indulge in the odd beer or two are both happier and healthier. After all, who doesn’t feel more chilled out with a cold pint in their hands after a long day at work? But now it seems that science is actually willing to back us up: it's been discovered that women who drink moderate amounts of beer throughout the week may be less prone to common health issues. In fact, the occasional one here and there may even be better for you than not drinking at all.
So say researchers at the University of Gothenburg, Sweden, who tracked both the alcohol consumption and overall health of 1,500 women for almost 50 years. Upon starting the study, all of the women were considered "middle aged" and living in the city of Gothenburg. They were tracked right up until 2000, when they were aged between 72 and 90 years of age. During the course of almost half a century, they were asked to measure the frequency of their consumption of beer, wine or spirits, with answers ranging from "daily" to "nothing in the past 10 years". At the same time, they were asked to track physical symptoms relating to their health. And the results made for some interesting reading.
By taking this data and cross-referencing it, they were able to map out trends in the consumption of varying types of alcohol and different illnesses. Of those that took part in the survey, 345 of the women got cancer, 185 suffered a heart attack, 162 had a stroke and 160 developed diabetes. However, as bleak as these figures may sound, there was actually a ray of hope in the scientists' findings, which were published in the Journal of Primary Health Care - the effect of alcohol on the heart.
Researchers found that ladies who drank beer once or twice a week reduced their risk of heart attacks by up to 30 per cent, compared to those who drink in high quantities and even those remained teetotal. And it’s not just that they all had super healthy diets either: “Our results have been checked against other risk factors for cardiovascular disease, which substantiates the findings” said Dominique Hange, Doctor of Medicine and Specialist in General Medicine at the university. Although this particular study focused on women, the authors did also point out that previous studies of men have shown that the rule still stands, and that in terms of mortality rates, male "non-consumers of alcohol have a less favourable prognosis than subjects drinking moderate amounts".
Unfortunately for those that don't like beer, there’s no evidence yet that your Tuesday glass of vino will make a good substitute: “We were unable to confirm that moderate wine consumption has the same effect”, Hange explained. And, if you’re more of a G&T kinda gal, there’s bad news for you too. The research indicated a firm correlation between women consuming high amounts of spirits and the likelihood of a cancer death, with an increase of more than 50 per cent. Even worse, in this case, “high amounts” meant more than once or twice a month (yes, month) - which let’s be honest, most of us are probably guilty of.
Of course, this isn't the first time the idea that women reap the health benefits of the occasional beer more than men has been raised. In 2016, researchers at University Hospital in Basel carried out a study on 60 men and women to see if drinking beer made them happier and more sociable. After giving half of the participants alcoholic beer and the other half non-alcoholic beer, researchers found that the desire to be with others, and to be in a happy, talkative and open environment increased more markedly in the women who had drunk the alcoholic beer than in all other groups.
However, while beer may appear to hold some health benefits, it seems we're still some way off from getting the doctor to prescribe a bevvy for us, with the closing remarks of the University of Gothenburg study warning that: "it is premature to recommend that women should drink beer regularly, as this protection must be compared with the possible disadvantages of alcohol consumption." That doesn't stop us dreaming though, does it?
But the next time someone raises their eyebrows at you and asks whether you should really be drinking on a Monday (again) raise your glass in their direction and say YES. Everything in moderation, after all.