A study from Israel ties moderate beer drinking to lower heart
attack risk. Preliminary clinical studies of a group of men with
coronary artery disease, show that drinking one beer (12 ounces)
a day for a month produces changes in blood chemistry that are
associated with a reduced risk of heart attack.
The study by Sheila Gorinstein, Ph.D. of The Hebrew University
of Jerusalem adds to growing evidence that moderate alcohol consumption
may reduce the risk of heart disease. Their findings appear in
the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry.
Heart-healthy changes observed in the blood of the test participants
following beer-drinking include decreased cholesterol levels,
increased antioxidants and reduced levels of fibrinogen, a clot-producing
protein. The study also showed, for the first time, that drinking
alcoholic beveragescauses structural changes in fibrinogen that
make the clotting protein less active. Gorenstien belives that
characterizing these structural changes of fibrinogen may one
day serve as a new diagnostic indicator of heart attack risk,
along with known risk indicators such as blood cholesterol and
antioxidant levels. Further studies are needed.
Forty-eight (48) men, ages 46-72, with coronary artery disease
were divided evenly into two groups. Individuals in one group
drank the equivalent of 12 ounces (one standard can or bottle)
of beer a day for 30 consecutive days, while the others drank
mineral water. Both groups ate a similar diet, rich in fruits
and vegetables, during this period.
In 21 of the 24 patients in the beer-drinking group, the researchers
found positive changes in blood chemicals that are associated,
on the basis of previous studies by Gorinstein and others, with
a decreased heart attack risk. These changes include a decrease
in "bad" cholesterol, an increase in "good" cholesterol, an increase
in antioxidant levels, and a decrease in levels and activity of
These changes, most likely produced by the relatively high polyphenol
content of beer, were generally not seen in the blood of the non-beer-drinking
group. The patients are currently being monitored to evaluate
long-term heart attack risk and survival rates, but results are
not yet available.