Researchers at the University of California, Riverside, trained 12 rhesus macaques also known as rhesus monkeys to consume alcohol of their own accord. The team vaccinated the primates against small pox and then allowed them access to either a 4 percent ethanol solution or sugar water.
“Like humans, rhesus macaques showed highly variable drinking behavior,” said Ilhem Messaoudi, an associate professor of medicine and lead author of the study.
But some monkeys were more thirsty than others: “Some animals drank large volumes of ethanol, while others drank in moderation,” added Messaoudi.
The results showed that those monkeys that drank the largest amounts of alcohol did not respond as well to the vaccine as those that drank no alcohol. However, animals that drank moderate amounts of ethanol displayed enhanced vaccine responses to those that remained teetotal.
“Our study, conducted on non-human primates, shows for the first time that voluntary moderate alcohol consumption boosts immune responses to vaccination,” Messaoudi explained.
The findings from the University of California, Riverside were published in the journal Vaccine earlier this month.
In 2013, there were a number of other studies that suggested that moderate alcohol consumption was beneficial to health: moderate wine consumption was associated with a 40 percent reduced risk of mortality from cardiovascular disease in men, and a 20 percent reduced risk of death from cancer in a major French study in June.
Similarly, scientists at the University of Leicester in the United Kingdom found that a compound in red wine, resveratrol, slowed the growth of cancer in mice, even after being metabolized into other compounds by the body.
Meanwhile, resveratrol in red wine isn’t only good for the heart but also the brain and may provide hope for Alzheimers sufferers. The compound can stall the progress of the disease by preventing the harmful clumps of protein that cause brain cells to die from latching on to the cells.