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Study sparks debate over health benefits of moderate drinking

There has long been evidence suggesting that moderate drinking could actually yield numerous health benefits, and results of a recent study only strengthens the argument. Scientists at UCLA discovered that when they exposed worms to small amounts of ethanol, their life expectancy jumped by a significant amount. While this certainly does not suggest alcohol has an identical impact on human subjects, it does further an ongoing debate over the benefits of drinking, The Huffington Post reports.

The impact that alcohol has on us as we age is one that scientists have been investigating for quite some time. Among the most significant benefits they have found is that moderate drinking can improve heart health and lower your chances of developing heart disease. Still, while there is a growing body of research on the health benefits, it is not as cut and dry as some may believe.

According to Canada's National Post, the cardiovascular advantages, including a lower risk of heart attack, is only applicable if you spread out your drinks evenly over a long period of time. This suggests that it's not the specific number of drinks but how and when they are consumed.

"The problem is that, a lot of the lay messages deal with alcohol as if it has only one dimension, i.e. how much you drink overall," researcher Jürgen Rehm told the publication. "From a scientific perspective, alcohol has at least two dimensions: first, how much do you drink overall and, secondly, how do you drink it."

While most of these studies preach moderation, the message may be going unheard among some baby boomers. A recent study from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found that the over 65 crowd is the demographic that binge drinks the most often. Similarly, a 2009 study found in The American Journal of Psychiatry found 22 percent of men between ages 50 and 64 reported binge drinking in the past month.

So just how much should you drink to reap the benefits of alcohol without crossing into a territory where the costs outweigh any advantages? According to the Harvard School of Public Health, most experts agree that moderate drinking means no more than two drinks a day for men and one drink a day for women.

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