Alcohol and heart attacks - it's not what you drink but the way that you drink it DRINK IT

May 18, 2000

Effect of beer drinking on risk of myocardial infarction: population based case-control study

A study of beer drinking men who had had a heart attack shows that men who drank daily or almost daily and consumed moderate amounts of beer a week had the lowest risk of heart attack according to a paper in this week's BMJ.

Many studies have shown an inverse association (one rises as the other falls) between alcohol consumption and coronary heart disease with a possible flattening of the effect at higher consumption levels. It remains unclear whether the protective effect is confined to specific drinks such as red wine, or relates to the ethanol in alcoholic drinks.

Dr Martin Bobak and colleagues studied men in the Czech Republic, a predominantly beer drinking country and excluded those who drank other alcohol such as wine or spirits. They compared them with a control sample of healthy men of the same age (25 to 64 years) from the Czech population.

In conclusion the authors note the protective effect was most pronounced among men who drank almost daily or daily, and who consumed between four and nine litres of beer per week (approximately half to one litre per day). There was a suggestion that the protective effect of the alcohol was lost in men who drank twice a day or more. All this is similar to results of studies of other alcoholic drinks.

Dr Bobak writes: "These results support the view that the protective effect of alcohol intake is due to ethanol rather than to specific substances present in different types of beverages."

Dr Martin Bobak, Senior Lecturer, International Centre for Health and Society, University College London Email:


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