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Moderate Drinking May Not Protect Against Heart Disease After All Says New Analysis Moderate Drinking May Not Protect Against Heart Disease After All Says New Analysis

May-29-2017 | 0 Comments


Those who indulge in a tipple thinking that is good for the heart might need to think again according to a new review, which reports that the evidence on the health benefits of moderate drinking may be misleading.

As many studies have found previously that adults who enjoy moderate levels of alcohol also have a lower incidence of heart disease than non-drinkers, many now believe that alcohol in moderation is good for heart health.

However, a new analysis carried out by Tim Stockwell, director of the Centre for Addictions Research at the University of Victoria, in British Columbia, Canada, has found that this previous research may be flawed.

After looking at 45 previous cohort studies, the participants classed as "non-drinkers" may actually be former drinkers who have quit or cut down for health reasons.

"We know that people generally cut down on drinking as they age, especially if they have health problems," explained Stockwell. "People who continue to be moderate drinkers later in life are healthier. They're not sick, or taking medications that can interact with alcohol."

This, according to Stockwell, is what leads to the belief that moderate drinkers tend to be healthier than abstainers, but he argues that it is not drinking behavior influencing health, but rather health is influencing drinking behavior.

In his analysis Stockwell found that overall, "current" moderate drinkers -- defined as up to two drinks per day -- did have a lower rate of heart disease death than non-drinkers.

However, after analyzing studies which looked at drinking habits earlier in life -- aged 55 and younger -- and followed participants up to the older years when heart disease is more likely, Stockwell found no benefits from moderate drinking.

A second study also supports Stockwell's suggestion.

After looking at more than 9,100 UK adults from the age of 23 to 55, the study's researchers found that nearly all of those who were non-drinkers at age 55 had previously drank alcohol, and those who were abstainers were also more likely to be in poorer health compared to moderate drinkers -- even those in their 20s.

They were also, on average, less educated, an important factor in lifetime health.

Stockwell pointed out that those who engage in occasional drinking can still continue to enjoy alcohol in moderation, commenting that, "The risks of low-level drinking are small." However, he also added that no one should be drinking just because they believe it will protect them from heart disease. "The notion that one or two drinks a day is doing us good may just be wishful thinking."

The findings can be found published online in the Journal of Studies on Alcohol and Drugs.

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