Just in time for New Year’s Eve, new research shows that drinking may boost your immune system and help fight off infections.
But hang on — before you gleefully down that bottle of Jack you’re clutching, know that the study is really just talking about drinking in moderation. The Oregon Health & Science University researchers found that those who drank alcohol had a decreased risk of death — along with better overall health and cardiovascular function — compared to those who didn’t imbibe at all.
To conduct the study, the team observed a group of monkeys with immune systems very similar to humans over the course of 14 months. They vaccinated them all against smallpox and then divided them into two groups: those with access to 4 percent ethanol, and those with access only to sugar water. All of the monkeys had access to pure water and food.
Of all the monkeys, those who drank a moderate amount of alcohol showed the best response to the vaccine. (The heavy drinkers showed the worst.) Prior to the experiment, all the monkeys showed a comparable response. In the end, the scientists concluded that moderate drinking significantly bolstered the monkeys’ immune systems.
So no, binge drinking your way into 2014 is still not great for your health. But if you enjoy just a few drinks tonight, your immune system will thank you. Cheers!