Alcohol May Increase Your Risk of Heart Disease
Some studies have indicated that moderate use of alcohol may be linked to higher HDL cholesterol levels. However, due to the other health risks associated with drinking alcohol, the benefit is not large enough to recommend drinking alcohol if you don't already do so.
If you choose to drink alcohol you should always do so in moderation.
Drinking moderately means having no more than one drink a day for women, and not more than one to two drinks per day for men.
One drink is the equivalent of 12 ounces of beer, or 5 ounces of wine.
Problems linked to drinking too much alcohol
It's clear that drinking too much alcohol can lead to serious health problems, including alcoholism, liver damage, high blood pressure, stroke, obesity, cancer (particularly breast and gastrointestinal tract), fetal alcohol syndrome, sleep apnea, and raised triglycerides.
Studies have in fact shown that drinking more than three alcoholic drinks per day can actually increase your risk for heart disease.
Alcohol may also interact with certain medications. So, if you are taking medication to lower blood pressure or cholesterol, or if you have diabetes, you should talk to your doctor to find out if drinking alcohol could be dangerous for your health.
Given these and other risks, the American Heart Association cautions against increasing your alcohol intake or starting to drink if you don't already do so.
Despite the fact that a few studies have found some benefit to drinking small amounts of alcohol; the potential for problem drinking is a much greater issue.
Excessive alcohol intake and binge drinking is actually the third leading cause of premature death among Americans.
If you're a binge drinker you should be aware that it can increase your risk of having a cardiovascular event, even if you are otherwise a light drinker.
Until we have access to more specific randomized outcome data, and tools for predicting susceptibility to problem drinking, it is wiser to follow a healthy eating plan and active lifestyle to prevent heart disease.
For further details check out: O'Keefe JH et al, Alcohol and Cardiovascular Health: The Razor-Sharp Double-Edged Sword, J Am Coll Cardiol 2007.