Moderate drinking could help heart
Two recent large studies looked at the effects of low-to-moderate drinking on adults and the results were promising, linking limited alcohol consumption to better heart health. Both studies also showed, however, increased risk of harm when drinking escalates from moderate to heavy.
In the first study, researchers used data from 52 countries to compare 12,000 cases of first heart attacks with 15,500 similar people who did not have a heart attack. Compared to not drinking at all, current alcohol use was linked to a 13 percent lower risk of heart attack, on average, in almost all regions, with the exception of South Asian countries including India, Sri Lanka, Pakistan and Bangladesh. In other regions, the protective association went away when alcohol consumption increased beyond four drinks per week. Having six or more drinks in the past 24 hours was associated with a 40 percent increased risk of heart attack, especially for people over age 65.
For the other study, which looked at the effects of alcohol on aortic abdominal aneurysm (AAA), researchers combined two Swedish data sets with a total of 70,000 men and women over age 45 who were followed from 1998 to 2011. Over the 14-year period, 1,020 men and 194 women were diagnosed with AAA.
The study showed that drinking four to six glasses of alcohol per week was associated with a 20 percent lower risk of AAA for men and a 44 percent lower risk for women, compared to drinking less than one or two glasses per week.
The risk kept decreasing up to the point of consuming 10 glasses per week for men and five for women. Beer and wine in particular were associated with lower risk. However, moderate drinking was not tied to any change in AAA risk for people who did not have cardiovascular diseases.
Based on these results, the researchers do not suggest people start drinking if they don’t already. However, the study suggests that low to moderate drinking doesn’t seem to harm most people, so if you do enjoy the occasional glass of wine, it’s probably good for you.
NEXT: Organic or Not?