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Heart Disease Health Center

Why Alcohol May Help Hearts

Alcohol May Act as a Blood Thinner, Study Shows
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Study's Findings

"We found that among both men and women, an intake of three to six drinks per week or more was linked to lower levels of stickiness by aggregability," says Mukamal in the news release.

"Aggregability" means the ability to cluster together. It measures platelet stickiness.

"Among the men, we also found that alcohol intake was linked to lower levels of platelet activation," Mukamal continues.

"Together, these findings ... identify moderate drinking as a potential blood thinner," he says.

The type of alcohol didn't appear to change the results. The study didn't specify whether wine was red or white.

Possible Impact

Moderate drinkers have been shown to have lower rates of heart attacks than nondrinkers, the researchers note.

But "at the same time, moderate drinking has been linked to a higher risk of hemorrhagic [bleeding] stroke, even [after] accounting for its effects on blood pressure," they write.

"Our findings add to a large body of evidence showing that moderate drinking has effects on blood coagulation, which may have both good and bad effects, but now identify a new avenue by which this effect may occur," says Mukamal.

What's a Serving?

It's easy to get carried away with serving size, especially if you're drinking out of large wine goblets or hefty beer glasses.

What you consider "one" drink could actually be several drinks if your portions are off.

Here's how the researchers defined one serving:

  • 12 ounces of beer
  • 5 ounces of wine
  • 1.5 ounces of 80-proof spirits

Self-reports, like those used in this study, aren't always perfect. No one was told to drink (or not drink) to directly test alcohol's effects.

Mukamal's team will evaluate other ethnic groups, according to the news release.

Second Opinion

"If you drink, do so in moderation," states the web site of the American Heart Association (AHA).

"The incidence of heart disease in those who drink moderate amounts of alcohol (no more than two drinks per day for men or one drink per day for women) is lower than in nondrinkers. However, with increased intake of alcohol, there are increased health dangers including high blood pressure, obesity, and stroke," continues the AHA.

Drinking alcohol may raise women's risk of breast cancer, according to previous studies.

Of course, alcohol is not recommended for pregnant women and should not be drunk before driving.

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