Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : March 29th 2017 Contents A24 body & soul
guardian.co.tt Wednesday, March 29, 2017
Daily glass of beer, wine
might do a heart good
Having a drink each day may help protect a per-
son's heart against disease, a large-scale study sug-
gests. But don't bend that elbow too often: drinking
to excess can increase your risk for a variety of
heart problems, the study also showed.
Researchers tracked more than 1.9 million healthy
British adults and found that having the occasional
drink was tied to reductions in the risk of heart attack,
sudden heart death, heart failure and stroke, compared
In the study, "moderate" drinking was defined as
seven pints of regular beer or 1.5 bottles of wine in one
week, researchers said in background notes.
Drinking more than that increased the risk of many
heart health problems, researchers found. Those in-
cluded sudden heart death, heart failure, cardiac arrest
"We have shown that heavy drinking increases a
person's risk of developing a variety of different types
of cardiovascular disease as well as raising their risk of
dying from non-cardiovascular causes," said lead re-
searcher Steven Bell. He's a genetic epidemiologist with
the University of Cambridge in England.
Despite these results, non-drinkers shouldn't feel
pressure to pick up a bottle for their heart health, even
though the study showed some potential benefit from
casual drinking, Bell said.
"There are safer and more effective ways of reducing
cardiovascular risk, such as increasing levels of physical
activity, maintaining a healthy diet and quitting smok-
ing, which do not incur increased risks of harm such as
alcohol dependence, liver disease and certain types of
cancer," Bell said.
For this study, researchers at the University of Cam-
bridge and University College London investigated
the potential link between alcohol consumption and
12 cardiovascular diseases by analyzing electronic health
records for nearly two million adults with good heart
The investigators found that moderate drinkers had a
32 per cent lower risk of heart attack, 56 per cent lower
risk of sudden heart death, 24 per cent lower risk of
heart failure, and 12 per cent decreased risk of ischemic
stroke. This type of stroke occurs when a clot blocks the
flow of blood and oxygen to the brain.
But people who went over the line into heavy drinking
wound up with increased heart health risks, including
a 21 per cent higher risk of sudden heart death, a 22 per
cent higher risk of heart failure, a 50 per cent increased
risk of cardiac arrest, a 33 per cent increased risk of is-
chemic stroke and a 37 per cent increased risk of bleeding
in the brain.
The findings were reported March 22 in the British
The new study is consistent with earlier results that
have indicated a potential heart health benefit from an
occasional drink, but it amplifies the message since it
involved millions of patients, said Dr Allan Stewart,
director of aortic surgery at Mount Sinai Hospital in
New York City.
"With this degree of power in the study, it's pretty
good evidence you are benefitting your health by hav-
ing a few drinks a week, or a drink or two a day," said
Stewart, who wasn't involved in the study.
There are several potential ways that casual drinking
might benefit heart health, although none have been
proven, Bell and Stewart said.
Alcohol consumption has been linked to increases in
"good" HDL cholesterol and properties in blood that
reduce clotting, Bell said. It's also possible that moderate
drinking helps reduce your stress levels, Stewart said.
Both men noted that this study was not a formal ex-
periment and did not prove a cause-and-effect link be-
tween moderate drinking and heart health, even though
it involved many people.
However, the results indicate that US guidelines for
healthy drinking appear to be on the right track, said Dr
Kenneth Mukamal, an associate professor at Harvard
"The guidelines basically say if you're a man, nev-
er have more than two drinks in a day, and if you're a
Having a drink each day may help protect a person's heart against disease, a
large-scale study suggests---but don't overdo it.
woman, never have more than one drink a day," said
Mukamal, who wrote an editorial accompanying the
new study. "That's a simple message, and yet more
Americans don't follow it than do."
US guidelines consider a drink to be 12 ounces of beer,
five ounces of wine or 1.5 ounces of liquor, according
to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
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