Study highlights cardiovascular benefits of moderate alcohol intake

Leslie Hanson
August 15, 2017

The guidelines now recommend that both men and women drink no more than 14 units of alcohol per week - the equivalent of around six pints of beer.

Now comparing the deaths with the alcohol consumption status it was noted that male heavy drinkers had a 25 percent increased risk of deaths due to all causes and a 67 percent raised risk of dying from cancers. Of these, 8,947 mortalities were cardiovascular disease-specific (6,944 heart disease-related and 2,003 cerebrovascular-related deaths) and 8,427 mortalities were cancer-specific.

Bo Xi, associate professor at the Shandong University School of Public Health in China and the study's lead author explained the results of the study saying that this study showed that light-to-moderate drinking could have some protective effects against cardiovascular diseases.

Analysis of the survey information found that, compared with lifetime non-drinkers, being a light or moderate drinker was associated with a reduced risk of death from all causes.

The study wasn't a controlled experiment created to prove whether or how heavy drinking might hasten death or light to moderate alcohol consumption might help people live longer.

Researchers observed 333,247 patients from 1997 to 2009 for the study.

There was also no apparent link between heavy drinking and cardiovascular death rates in either sex.

Many other studies compared moderate drinkers to people who now didn't drink, making it impossible to separate people who stopped drinking due to addiction or other health reasons from people who were lifelong abstainers. Moderate alcohol consumption seemed to be particularly protective of the heart, with deaths from cardiovascular disease slashed by 29 per cent.

Men who consumed three to 14 drinks a week benefited by 13 per cent and 21 per cent, respectively.

Researchers examined data from more than 330,000 people and investigated the association between drinking and risk of mortality from all causes, cancer and cardiovascular disease in the United States.

The participants were followed-up with periodic surveys for an average of 8 years, after which 34,754 participants had died. "On the other hand, heavy drinkers should be reminded that drinking is harmful to their health". Researchers suspect the benefits of moderate drinking are linked to the antioxidants in alcoholic drinks, an increase in "good" HDL cholesterol, and alcohol's ability to reduce damaging inflammation in the body. While younger adults may not see substantial health benefits from moderate drinking, the editorial argues, "for most older persons, the overall benefit of light drinking, especially the reduced [cardiovascular disease] risk, clearly outweigh possible cancer risk". "A balance between beneficial and detrimental effects of alcohol consumption on health should be considered when making individual or population-wide recommendations, but the reduction of harmful or high consumption of alcohol remains necessary and essential".

Moderate drinking is defined as having more than three drinks and less than 14 drinks for males or more than three and less than seven for females.

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