Study: Moderate drinking could bolster immune system

PORTLAND, Ore. — Scientists at Oregon Health & Science University found that consuming moderate amounts of alcohol can have a positive effect on the immune system.

Researchers trained a group of 12 rhesus macaque monkeys to drink a 4 percent mixture of ethanol alcohol. They said the monkeys chose when and how much to drink on their own accord.
 
The monkeys were then separated into two groups, and one group was only given access to sugar water. Scientists gave the monkeys small pox vaccinations at the beginning and end of the study to gauge the response from the animals’ immune systems. After 14 months, the monkeys considered “moderate drinkers”, with an average blood-ethanol concentration of .03 percent, showed the strongest immune systems.
 
OHSU says this evidence can translate to humans, in that moderate drinking could help our bodies fight off infection. 
 
Lead author Ilhem Messaoudi said, “for the average person who has, say, a glass of wine with dinner, it does seem in general to improve health and cardiovascular function. And now we can add the immune system to that list."
 
But for both monkeys and humans, researchers stressed that excessive consumption of alcohol is overall a bad thing.
 
The study was published December 17 in the journal Vaccine.