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Heart Disease Health Center

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Alcohol May Reduce Men's Heart Risk

Study Shows Moderate Drinking Cuts Risk of Heart Disease in Men by 51%

Amount of Alcohol and Heart Risk

Drinking any type of alcohol lowered the risk of serious heart disease in men, with the amount of risk reduction associated with the amount of alcohol:

  • Light drinking reduced risk by 35%
  • Moderate drinking reduced risk by 51%
  • High and very high levels of drinking reduced risk by 54% and 50%.

Former drinkers had a 10% risk reduction.

For the study, the researchers considered a drink as an alcoholic beverage with 10 grams of alcohol, the U.K. standard, Arriola says. In the U.S., a standard drink is equal to 13.7 grams of alcohol, according to the CDC.

Roughly, here is how Arriola defines her categories:

  • Light drinking was up to 5 grams a day -- or about one glass of wine, one and one-half beers, or less than a half glass of hard liquor.
  • Moderate drinking was 5 to 30 grams a day, or about two glasses of wine, two or three beers, or a half to one glass of hard liquor.
  • High and very high levels of drinking were 30 to 90 grams a day, or about five or more glasses of wine, seven or more beers, and one to one and a half glasses or more of hard liquor.

While the type of alcoholic beverage consumed, overall, did not have an effect on the level of risk reduction, the researchers found the protection greater for those drinking moderate to high levels of alcohol, which included beverages other than wine alone.

The study results replicate many other studies, according to Kristi Reynolds, PhD, MPH, a research scientist and epidemiologist at the Kaiser Permanente Southern California Medical Group. But she points out that heavy alcohol consumption carries many risks.

In an email, she writes that heavy alcohol consumption has been shown in other studies to lead to increased illness and death from other causes. "Therefore, the implications of these findings should be examined cautiously. Advice regarding alcohol consumption should be tailored to the individual patient's risks and the potential benefit."

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