Alcohol May Reduce Men's Heart Risk
Study Shows Moderate Drinking Cuts Risk of Heart Disease in Men by 51%
WebMD News Archive
Nov. 18, 2009 -- Regular consumption of alcohol -- beer, wine, or hard
liquor -- reduces the risk of heart disease in men by a third or more,
according to a new Spanish study.
''Our study confirms what many other studies have already said," says
researcher Larraitz Arriola, MD, of the Public Health Department of Gipuzkoa in
San Sebastian, Spain. One difference, she says: Researchers in the new study
separated ex-drinkers from lifelong teetotalers in hopes of better
understanding the alcohol-heart health link.
Arriola and colleagues also found a beneficial effect of alcohol for women's
heart health, she says, but it was not strong enough to be considered
statistically significant. She suspects it's because of the relatively low
number of women in the study who developed heart disease.
While drinking was associated with heart health, Arriola is quick to offer
this caveat: ''I would not advise anybody to [start to] drink alcohol, because
alcohol causes, as we mention in our paper, 1.8 million deaths a year" in
addition to disabilities.
"If somebody already drinks alcohol, then I would advise to drink
moderately, eat healthy food, and do some exercise."
In the study, researchers evaluated more than 41,000 men and women enrolled
in the ongoing European Prospective Investigation into Cancer (EPIC) study.
That study includes a half million adults living in 10 Western European
In the current research looking at alcohol and heart health, the researchers
evaluated 15,630 men and 25,808 women ages 29 to 69, all free of heart
disease at the beginning of the study, following them for a median of 10 years
(half longer, half less).
The researchers calculated alcohol intake from a diet history record; a
follow-up revealed which participants had a cardiovascular event -- either a
heart attack or unstable angina (chest pains) that required a procedure such as
a bypass operation or angioplasty.
During the follow-up, 609 such events occurred to 481 men and 128 women.
Spain has low heart disease death rates in comparison to some other
countries, but high levels of alcohol consumption.