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Drinking monkeys show stronger immune system

Tuesday - 12/31/2013, 9:03am  ET

WASHINGTON - We've known for years that drinking moderate amounts of alcohol is good for the heart. But now, it looks like it could help our bodies take to vaccines and boost immune systems.

Or, at least, it helped with monkeys.

In a study at Oregon Health and Science University, scientists gave sugar water to a group of rhesus monkeys and alcohol to another. Beforehand, the monkeys were injected with the smallpox vaccine.

"Moderate drinking monkeys generated a greater immune system response than monkeys who didn't drink at all," lead author on the study Ilhelm Messoudi said in a news release.

She said it was "more of a surprise than we expected."

But more isn't always better. Messoudi said that monkeys who drank more heavily had the opposite reaction -- their responses to vaccines was greatly diminished. So keep that in mind as you ring in the New Year.

WTOP's Dick Uliano contributed to this report. Follow @WTOP on Twitter.

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