A new medical report claims that regular but modest drinking in middle age can protect against heart disease, strokes, diabetes, osteoporosis and Alzheimer's disease. The effects of two drinks a day for a woman, or three for a man, is so marked that some scientists believe middle-aged people should treat alcohol as a dietary supplement. Professor Morten Gronbaek, from Denmark's Centre for Alcohol Research, says drinking can be "good for your health provided you adopt a careful style". Another study by Alun Evans, professor of epidemiology at Queen's University Belfast, backs the Danish results. He believes the French are healthier than the British because they drink "a little every day" while we tend to binge-drink at weekends. This results in raised blood pressure, which in turn increases the risk of heart attacks. Professor Eric Rimm, of Harvard, claims that up to two drinks a day can halve the risk of a heart attack among middle-aged men and reduce the risk of diabetes by 36%. Oliver James, professor of medicine at the University of Newcastle, says the benefits of moderate drinking among older people were becoming clear. But he warns that excessive drinking is still the biggest cause of premature death in young adults, through road accidents, violence or swallowing of vomit. The Sunday Times 28/11/04 page 5 The Observer 28/11/04 page 12 The Mail on Sunday 28/11/04 page 24