Alcohol May Lower Heart Attack Risk
Moderate Drinking May Lower Risk for Men With High Blood Pressure
Jan. 2, 2007 -- A drink or two a day isn't bad for men with high
blood pressure -- and may lower their risk of heart
attack, according to new research.
The finding comes from a long-term study of nearly 12,000 male doctors,
dentists, and pharmacists with high blood pressure.
Many doctors now warn men with high blood pressure not to drink alcohol,
which is known to raise blood pressure.
That recommendation may have to change, say researchers Joline W.J. Beulens,
MSc, of the University Medical Center in Utrecht, Netherlands, and
Every four years from 1986 to 2002, the men in the Dutch study filled out
questionnaires about alcohol use, diet, and health.
Men who drank moderately -- one or two drinks per day -- had a lower risk of
heart attack. However, their risk of heart disease
and death from any cause was no lower than that of men who did not drink.
"Men with hypertension who
drink moderately and safely may not need to change their drinking habits,"
Beulens and colleagues conclude.
In an editorial accompanying the study, National Cancer Institute researcher
Anne C.M. Thiebaut, PhD, and colleagues warn doctors and patients to take the
findings with a grain of salt.
Thiebaut and colleagues note that self-report surveys -- particularly those
on nutrition -- are
notoriously prone to reporting errors. That is, people who actually consume
very little of something often overreport their consumption. And those who
actually consume a great deal of something often underreport.
This is particularly true of surveys on alcohol use.
"The uncertainties surrounding measurement error should send a strong
message to those who formulate recommendations about nutrition," Thiebaut
and colleagues suggest. "The discretion of silence may be preferable to the
valor of setting recommendations."
The Beulens study and the Thiebaut editorial appear in the January issue of
Annals of Internal Medicine.