Heavy drinking does the body no favors. It can lead to weakened heart muscle and irregular heart rhythms, as well as dementia, cancer and stroke. But could drinking just a little be heart healthy? The science is unsettled. While some research suggests that moderate drinking (up to a drink a day for women and up to two for men) is linked with lower rates of cardiovascular disease, the research does not prove cause and effect, Gianos cautions. For example, it could be that people who drink regularly take time to relax with loved ones, and that may be what is providing the heart benefit.

Focusing more on lifestyle issues and their relationships with functional health, data from the Alameda County Study suggested that people can improve their health via exercise, enough sleep, maintaining a healthy body weight, limiting alcohol use, and avoiding smoking.[28] Health and illness can co-exist, as even people with multiple chronic diseases or terminal illnesses can consider themselves healthy.[29]
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