Drinking alcohol in moderation protects against heart disease

February 22, 2011

Individuals who drink alcohol in moderation (about one drink a day or less) are 14-25% less likely to develop heart disease compared to those who drink no alcohol at all, finds research led by Professor William Ghali from the University of Calgary, published on bmj.com today.

The first paper, led by Paul Ronksley from the University of Calgary, emphasises that a balance needs to be found between the public health message that consuming large amounts of alcohol is bad for you, and the one that drinking in moderation can have health benefits.

An accompanying paper led by Dr Susan Brien, also from the University of Calgary, finds that moderate consumption of alcohol (up to one drink or 15 g alcohol per day for women and up to two drinks or 30 g alcohol per day for men) is good for health. They say moderate amounts of alcohol significantly increase the levels of 'good' cholesterol circulating in the body and this has a protective effect against heart disease.

Brien and colleagues argue that their study strengthens the case that there is a causal link between alcohol consumption and reduced heart disease.

The authors of both papers acknowledge that a number of previous studies have concluded that moderate alcohol consumption has been associated with a decrease in heart disease. However, they say that the research was out-of-date and there was a need for new material. Professor Ghali says his team's research is the most comprehensive to date.

Ghali and colleagues reviewed 84 studies of alcohol consumption and heart disease. They compared alcohol drinkers with non-drinkers and their outcomes in relation to heart disease, death from heart disease, incidences of stroke and death from having a stroke.

In the companion study, Brien and colleagues reviewed 63 studies and investigated alcohol consumption with known physical markers for heart disease such as cholesterol, levels of inflammation, fat cells and the condition of blood vessels. They also assessed the impact of the type of alcohol consumed (wine, beer and spirits).

Interestingly, Brien's research concludes that it is the alcohol content that provides the health benefits not the type of alcoholic beverage (wine, beer or spirits) that is drunk.

Professor Ghali concludes that the debate between the impact of alcohol on heart disease should now centre "on how to integrate this evidence into clinical practice and public health messages".

He adds "with respect to public health messages there may now be an impetus to better communicate to the public that alcohol, in moderation, may have overall health benefits that outweigh the risks in selected subsets of patients ... any such strategy would need to be accompanied by rigorous study and oversight of impacts".
-end-


BMJ

Related Heart Disease Articles from Brightsurf:

Cellular pathway of genetic heart disease similar to neurodegenerative disease
Research on a genetic heart disease has uncovered a new and unexpected mechanism for heart failure.

Mechanism linking gum disease to heart disease, other inflammatory conditions discovered
The link between periodontal (gum) disease and other inflammatory conditions such as heart disease and diabetes has long been established, but the mechanism behind that association has, until now, remained a mystery.

New 'atlas' of human heart cells first step toward precision treatments for heart disease
Scientists have for the first time documented all of the different cell types and genes expressed in the healthy human heart, in research published in the journal Nature.

With a heavy heart: How men and women develop heart disease differently
A new study by researchers from McGill University has uncovered that minerals causing aortic heart valve blockage in men and women are different, a discovery that could change how heart disease is diagnosed and treated.

Heart-healthy diets are naturally low in dietary cholesterol and can help to reduce the risk of heart disease and stroke
Eating a heart-healthy dietary pattern rich in vegetables, fruits, whole grains, low-fat dairy products, poultry, fish, legumes, vegetable oils and nuts, which is also limits salt, red and processed meats, refined-carbohydrates and added sugars, is relatively low in dietary cholesterol and supports healthy levels of artery-clogging LDL cholesterol.

Pacemakers can improve heart function in patients with chemotherapy-induced heart disease
Research has shown that treating chemotherapy-induced cardiomyopathy with commercially available cardiac resynchronization therapy (CRT) delivered through a surgically implanted defibrillator or pacemaker can significantly improve patient outcomes.

Arsenic in drinking water may change heart structure raising risk of heart disease
Drinking water that is contaminated with arsenic may lead to thickening of the heart's main pumping chamber in young adults, according to a new study by researchers at Columbia University Mailman School of Public Health.

New health calculator can help predict heart disease risk, estimate heart age
A new online health calculator can help people determine their risk of heart disease, as well as their heart age, accounting for sociodemographic factors such as ethnicity, sense of belonging and education, as well as health status and lifestyle behaviors.

Wide variation in rate of death between VA hospitals for patients with heart disease, heart failure
Death rates for veterans with ischemic heart disease and chronic heart failure varied widely across the Veterans Affairs (VA) health care system from 2010 to 2014, which could suggest differences in the quality of cardiovascular health care provided by VA medical centers.

Heart failure: The Alzheimer's disease of the heart?
Similar to how protein clumps build up in the brain in people with some neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer's and Parkinson's diseases, protein clumps appear to accumulate in the diseased hearts of mice and people with heart failure, according to a team led by Johns Hopkins University researchers.

Read More: Heart Disease News and Heart Disease Current Events
Brightsurf.com is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com.