News on Wellness

Even Light Drinking Carries Risks For The Heart

Few findings in recent years have suggested that moderate alcohol consumption (e.g., red wine or beer) may offer some people a degree of protection against heart disease, but the effect of alcohol on health is complicated.
The new study indicates that even light or moderate alcohol drinking is not as good for the heart as previously suspected. Just 12 units can lead to a negative effect.

Light to moderate drinking was defined as consuming 17 to 23 ml of alcohol a day, an equivalent of a 175 ml glass of wine.

Researchers led by the Perelman School of Medicine from the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia found that lower alcohol consumers, that is people with a particular gene, who drank 17 per cent less alcohol per week, had 10 per cent lower risk of coronary heart disease, lower blood pressure and a lower body mass index (BMI).

For the study, researchers from the UK, continental Europe, North America, and Australia collected and compared data on drinking habits and heart health from 56 epidemiological studies covering more than 260,000 people of European origin.

“These new results are critically important to our understanding of how alcohol affects heart disease. Contrary to what earlier reports have shown, it now appears that any exposure to alcohol has a negative impact upon heart health…,” said co-lead author Michael Holmes, MD, PhD, research assistant professor in the department of Transplant Surgery at the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania, in a press release.

The study was undertaken to investigate the heart health of people who carry a particular gene called “alcohol dehydrogenase 1B.” The gene has the ability to code for a protein that helps to abstain from alcohol more quickly than in non-carriers. The gene served as an indicator of lower alcohol consumption, and provided a starting point for investigating the links between lower consumption and improved heart health.

The researchers concluded that all drinkers, including light ones, could benefit from drinking less throughout the week.

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