It seems like every week there's a study telling you whether or not it's healthy to consume alcohol. While it's pretty safe to say that heavy drinking is not a wise health choice, a fairly large-scale study published in European Heart Journal suggests that having about one drink a day could reduce the risk of heart disease.
Researchers followed the habits at nearly 15,000 middle-aged men and women over the course of about a quarter century. They found that drinking up to seven alcoholic drinks per week actually reduced the risk of heart disease compared with teetotalers, though the effect was stronger in men than in women.
Science Daily has more:
After taking account of various factors that could affect the results such as age, diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease or heart attacks, body mass index, cholesterol levels, physical activity, education and smoking, men who consumed up to seven drinks a week had a 20% reduced risk of developing heart failure compared to abstainers, while the risk was reduced by 16% in women consuming the same amount. Former drinkers had the highest risk of developing heart failure — a 19% and 17% increased risk among men and women respectively compared to abstainers. Interestingly, among both men and women consuming the most amount of alcohol (14 or more drinks a week), the risk of heart failure was not significantly different compared to the risk for abstainers.
One drink was defined as 14 grams of pure alcohol, which winds up working out to a little less than the standard single class of wine, pint of beer, or shot of liquor.
Now, this study is an important reminder that association does not always equal causation; the study doesn't claim definitively that drinking booze will help prevent heart disease.
Still, it's useful information for the next time you want to indulge in a glass of red wine with dinner! As always, moderation is key.
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