Page last updated: Friday, June 3, 2005
HOW MODERATE DRINKING REDUCES CARDIAC RISK
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.

Results.

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.

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