A roundtable discussion chaired by Dr. Michael A. Collins and co-chaired by Dr. Kenneth J. Mukamal based on the Research Society on Alcoholism meetings in Chicago, Illinois in July 2007 is to be published.
The participants stated that in contrast to many years of important research and clinical attention to the pathological effects of alcohol misuse, the past several decades have seen the publication of a number of peer-reviewed studies indicating the beneficial effects of light-moderate, nonbinge consumption of varied alcoholic beverages, as well as experimental demonstrations that moderate alcohol exposure can initiate typically cytoprotective mechanisms. A considerable body of epidemiology associates moderate alcohol consumption with significantly reduced risks of coronary heart disease and, albeit currently a less robust relationship, cerebrovascular (ischemic) stroke. Experimental studies with experimental rodent models and cultures (cardiac myocytes, endothelial cells) indicate that moderate alcohol exposure can promote anti-inflammatory processes involving adenosine receptors, protein kinase C (PKC), nitric oxide synthase, heat shock proteins, and others which could underlie cardioprotection. Also, brain functional comparisons between older moderate alcohol consumers and nondrinkers have received more recent epidemiological study. In over half of nearly 45 reports since the early 1990s, significantly reduced risks of cognitive loss or dementia in moderate, nonbinge consumers of alcohol (wine, beer, liquor) have been observed, whereas increased risk has been seen only in a few studies. Physiological explanations for the apparent CNS benefits of moderate consumption have invoked alcohol’s cardiovascular and/or hematological effects, but there is also experimental evidence that moderate alcohol levels can exert direct “neuroprotective” actions
Reference: Results will be published in the February 2009 issue of Alcoholism: Clinical & Experimental Research and are currently available at Early View.