Page last updated: Friday, June 3, 2005
Cardioprotective Effects of Alcohol
An in-depth scientific review article by Dr. Morton Gronbaek from the Center of Alcohol Research at the Danish National Institute of Health states: “The impact of alcohol intake on mortality from all causes has been described in a large number of prospective population studies from many countries. Most have shown a J-shaped relation between alcohol intake and subsequent mortality, indicating that there are both beneficial and harmful effects of ethanol on health. The risk of death from ischemic heart disease is seen to be significantly decreased among moderate drinkers, and highest among abstainers, but not significantly increased among heavy drinkers. Some studies have found plausible mechanisms for the beneficial effect of light to moderate drinking. Subjects with a moderate alcohol intake have a higher level of high density lipoprotein cholesterol (HDL) than abstainers. Further, moderate drinkers are seen to have a lower low density lipoprotein (LDL). Also, alcohol has a beneficial effect on platelet aggregation and other factors related to blood clotting within arteries. At the high end of the in range of intake, the ascending leg of the U-shaped curve has been explained by the increased risk of cirrhosis, pancreatitis, and development of pharynx, oesophagus, and breast cancer. In exploring the “French Paradox”, it has been suggested that wine may have beneficial effects additional to that of ethanol. Recently, several prospective population studies have supported this idea. It is, however, also likely that the apparent additional beneficial effect of wine on health in addition to the effect of ethanol itself is due to the consequence of confounding.”

SOURCE: Gronbaek M, The Epidemiologic Evidence for the Cardioprotective Effects Associated with the Consumption of Alcoholic Beverages, Pathophysiology. 2004 Apr; 10(2):83-92

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