London, May 20 (ANI): A major new study has shown that people who drink moderately, two or three glasses of wine in the evening, are far healthier than those who abstain from drinking any alcohol.
The study indicates that moderate drinkers have lower rates of heart disease, obesity and depression than people who abstain from alcohol entirely.
But while recent research has highlighted the health-giving properties of wine and some other alcoholic drinks, the authors of the latest study have added a note of caution.
They claim that drinking modest amounts of alcohol does not necessarily make you healthier.
Rather, people who enjoy alcohol without indulging to excess tend to be wealthier and more successful than average - the sort of people who look after other areas of their health.
"Moderate alcohol intake is a powerful marker of a higher social level, superior general health status and lower cardiovascular risk," the Telegraph quoted Boris Hansel of the Pitie-Salpetriere Hospital in Paris, who led the research, as saying.
As part of the study the researchers analysed the medical records of 150,000 people from the Paris area who underwent medical examinations between 1999 and 2005.
They split the sample into four groups: people who did not drink; light drinkers; moderate drinkers; and heavy drinkers.
Light drinkers were defined as those who drank one unit alcohol a day - the equivalent of one small glass of wine. Moderate drinkers consumed between one and three units a day - up to half a bottle of weak wine or a pint-and-a-half of standard strength beer.
An analysis of the records showed that light and moderate drinkers scored better than both teetotallers and heavy drinkers on a range of health indicators.
In addition to reduced rates of heart disease and depression, they tended to have lower cholesterol and lower blood sugar levels, and suffer less from stress.
The researchers also found that people who controlled their drinking tended to come from higher socio-economic groups, and do more exercise.
"There is no reason to think that alcohol consumption augments one's social or professional standing," Dr Hansel said.
"What we see, in fact, is that people who drink moderately are people who, at the same time, lead healthier lives," he stated.
He also said that the study indicated that people who drink moderately "for pleasure" could continue doing so.
But the findings, published in the European Journal of Clinical Nutrition, a Nature title, do not support the medicinal use of wine or any other alcoholic drink.
"It is not appropriate to promote alcohol consumption as a basis for cardiovascular protection," Dr Hansel added.
Several recent studies have made a connection between moderate alcohol consumption and good health, but scientists are divided about whether there is a causal link.
Last year research from the Wageningen University in the Netherlands indicated that half a glass of wine a day could add five years to your life.
Compounds in red wine have also been shown to stop the build up of fatty tissue in the arteries of animals. (ANI)