One of the principal conclusions which emerged from an overall
analysis of 42 different research projects mounted in several
different countries around the world, was that the risk of coronary
heart disease was likely to be diminished, when individuals consumed
3.75 eight gramme units of alcohol per day This significantly
altered levels of 3 different substances in the blood stream which
together are likely to diminish the risk the risk of coronary
heart disease by a quarter.
The raw material for this "meta-analysis" came from computer research
of all experimental studies on alcohol in humans published between
1965-1998. Sixty-one different data records from research groups
that measured the blood concentration of substances such as lipoprotein
cholesterol in subjects, before and after they consumed various
amounts of alcohol per day was used. The investigators gathered
solid evidence as to how various levels of drinking led to changes
in the bloodstream. Results from quite separate research were
then used to relate these changes to coronary disease.
A strong and convincing link between moderate alcohol intake and
3 alterations in blood was shown. These were: a lower concentration
of fibrinogen (important for blood clotting) and higher concentration
of two substances HDLC and apolipoprotein A1. Although in statistical
terms weak, moderate drinking was also linked with a raised level
of a type of fat known as triglycerides. The researchers having
put all the findings together calculate that the likelihood of
coronary heart disease would be reduced by 24.7% with an intake
of 3.75 units per day.
In light of such evidence, should teetotallers be advised to drink?
This is rejected by the authors of the paper as they argue most
abstainers do so for specific reasons i.e., religion, and family
history of alcoholism and previous health problems. They point
out, however, the official guidelines in both the UK and USA state
that moderate use of alcohol can be part of a healthy lifestyle.
Sources: Effects of Acute Alcohol Infusion on Duration and Dispersion
of QT Interval in Male Patients with Coronary Artery Disease and
in Healthy Controls, Clinical Cardiology (1999), 22, 591-4, Rossinen J., Sinisalo J., Partanen J., Nieminen
M.S. and Viitaslo M., Department of Medicine, Division of Cardiology,
Helsinki University Central Hospital, Helsinki; Department of
Medicine, Jorvi Hospital, Espoo, Finland.
Moderate Alcohol Intake and Lower Risk of Coronary Heart Disease:
Meta- analysis of Effects on Lipids and Heamostatic Factors, British Medical Journal (1999), 319 1523-8, Rimm E.B., Williams P., Fosher K., Cirqui
m. and Stampfer M.J., Department of Nutrition, Harvard School
of Public Health, Boston, MA; Department of Biostatistics, Harvard
School of Medicine and Family and Preventive Medicine, University
of California at San Diego,CA,USA.