Among alcoholic drinks, wine has been widely considered the beverage of good health. But a new study out of Spain suggests that, in moderation, any form of alcohol can bestow health benefits, ReutersHealth reports. In a survey of more than 19,000 Spaniards, researchers found that moderate consumption of any alcohol was linked to better overall health, compared with abstinence from drinking. While this is at odds with past research linking wine, but not other alcoholic drinks, to better health, the Spanish researchers speculate that the health impact of different drinking patterns may vary among cultures. "These results differ from those obtained in several Nordic countries," Dr. Fernando Rodriguez-Artalejo, of the Universidad Autonoma in Madrid, and colleagues write in the September issue of the Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health. But cultural differences, such as the tendency of people in Mediterranean countries to drink with meals, rather than "compulsively," may help explain the disparate findings, Rodriguez-Artalejo told Reuters Health. Using data from a national health survey of people aged 16 and older, his team found that those who drank regularly were less likely than teetotallers to report "suboptimal" health. And it did not matter whether the beverage of choice was wine, beer or spirits, although higher consumption of spirits (five or more drinks a day) showed no health benefits. Overall, 57 per cent of participants said they drank regularly. The majority consumed one or two alcoholic beverages a day. The link between drinking and reports of better health remained even after the researchers considered other factors such as age, smoking, exercise and the presence of chronic conditions including heart disease and diabetes. However, Rodriguez-Artalejo cautioned that people should not take the study findings as a license to drink, as too much alcohol can cause serious liver damage and raise the risk of certain cancers.