A review published in Future Cardiology states that an inverse association (protective effect) of moderate alcohol intake and cardiovascular risk, in particular coronary disease and ischemic stroke, has been demonstrated in many epidemiologic studies. In addition, several not primarily vascular diseases are also known to occur less frequently in moderate drinkers than in nondrinkers, whereas excess drinking is unquestionably harmful.
The report confirms alcohols effect on several biochemical factors that have potential cardioprotective benefits, including lipids, platelet aggregation, fibrinogen, tissue-plasminogen activator, plasminogen-activator inhibitor and omega-3 fatty acids. The polyphenols in wine, dark beers and other antioxidant rich beverages possibly act through mechanisms that might provide additional cardiovascular benefits.
Mechanisms supporting the protective effect of moderate alcohol intake against cardiovascular disease, and epidemiologic evidence concerning the relationship between alcohol dosing and vascular and all-cause mortality are discussed in this review.
Source: Alcohol consumption and cardiovascular risk: mechanisms of action and epidemiologic perspectives. Di Castelnuovo et al. Future Cardiology, vol 5 no 5 Sept 2009, pp 467-477.