Alcohol helps lower heart disease risk for men: study

November 19, 2009

Men who drink alcohol every day see a nearly one-third average reduction in the risk of coronary heart disease, according to a long-term study among Spanish men published on Thursday.

The research unfolded over a decade among more than 41,000 men and women aged between 29 and 69, who were assessed for their health and lifestyle as part of a European probe into cancer.

During the course of the study, 609 cases of heart attacks and other "coronary events" happened, 481 among men and 128 among women.

Among , those drinking moderate, high and very high levels of alcohol all had a lower risk of coronary compared with non-drinkers.

For those classified as former drinkers, the risk was 10 percent lower; for those drinking little (0.5 grammes of alcohol per day), the risk was 35 percent; for moderate drinkers (five-30 grammes per day), the risk was 54 percent lower; and for high (30-90 grammes per day) and very high drinkers (more than 90 grammes per day) it was halved.

By way of comparison, a 285ml glass of heavy beer containing 4.9 percent of alcohol amounts to 11 grammes, while a 180ml glass of wine with 12 percent alcohol has 17.06 grammes.

Women also benefitted from , but the effects were not statistically significant, possibly due to lower numbers of "coronary events" in that group.

The type of alcohol consumed did not affect the level of protection.

The paper sheds light on the situation in Spain, which is the world's third largest producer of beer and wine and has the sixth highest per capita consumption of alcohol. But it also has one of the lowest death rates from in the world.

To anyone tempted to defend heavy boozing as an act of healthiness, the paper also points to the many risks of alcohol abuse, in terms of premature death and disability.

The (WHO) estimates that of the approximately two billion people out of Earth's 6.7 billion who drink regularly, over 76 million have ill health as a result, the paper says.

The study appears in Heart, a journal of the British Medical Association (BMA).

(c) 2009 AFP

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1 / 5 (1) Nov 19, 2009
Everything has a good and bad site, it goes bad when its TO much or TO less.
3 / 5 (3) Nov 19, 2009
I think a mediterranean diet is what is responsible for lower death rates from coronary heart disease in Spain. You know what they say about correlation and causation... alcohol may very well be the least significant aspect of the diet.
3 / 5 (2) Nov 19, 2009
It's right to correct for things to simplify a scientific study, but if you correct for too much, you oversimplify. For example, a glass of water containing both antioxidants and poison will be better than just one with poison, but by "correcting" for poison the scientist has made their study meaningless.

Einstein said that everything should be made as simple as possible but not simpler. Also, does anyone remember the study which showed that people who drink moderate amounts of alcohol liver longer, but that this was due to the fact that these people are in general wealthier? As acarrilho said, correlation is not causation.
3 / 5 (2) Nov 19, 2009
This is a MOST unhelpful news item. It has un-done two years of work trying to reduce our elderly relatives' alchohol intake.

The booze may reduce their chances of a heart attack, but it is killing them three other ways, makes them confused and unsteady, especially at night, and interferes with essential medication...
5 / 5 (2) Nov 19, 2009
In the immortal words of Homer Simpson, "To alcohol: the cause of, and solution to, all of life's problems."
5 / 5 (1) Nov 19, 2009
Evidence from multiple studies over many years makes it abundantly clear that light to moderate alcohol consumption provides a benefit to the heart. Like any drug, taking too much can have a negative effect on health, but that's the no reason to not use it al all. The percentage reductions in this and other studies are WONDER DRUG numbers folks. If it wasn't for the fact that alcohol can't be patented and sold exclusively, doctors would be perscribing it to people right now. So I'm a little confused by all the negatives comments here.
5 / 5 (1) Nov 19, 2009
I think it would be more helpful to do a cluster or correlation analysis on what these people drink.
For example this would indicate if wine is better than beer.
The mediteranian diet is not a factor because the control (T-total) group presumably ate similar food to the boozers.
Before declaring WONDER DRUG I would want to consider the side effects i.e. cancer and other diseases.
Of course if the causal mechanism can be identified then it might lead to a wonder drug with negligible side effects.

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