Research for decades around the world has rather consistently found that those who consume alcoholic beverages in moderation have a lower risk of coronary disease and heart attacks than do those who either abstain or drink heavily.
To determine if, for example, moderate drinkers have fewer heart attacks because they lead more healthful lifestyles than do abstainers or heavy drinkers, this study examined only healthy men who led healthful lifestyles.
From 51,529 male participants in the Health Professionals Follow-Up Study, the scientists identified 8,867 men who didn’t smoke, were of normal weight (normal body mass), exercised at least moderately for 30-60 minutes per day, and ate a balanced, healthful diet. [vegetables, fruits, cereal fiber, chicken, nuts, soy, and polyunsaturated fat; low consumption of trans-fat and red and processed meat.]
Participants averaged 57 years of age at the beginning of the study and were followed for up to 16 years. The researchers correlated alcohol consumption with the occurrence of both nonfatal and fatal heart attacks.
Among these healthy men with healthful lifestyles, those who consumed anywhere from ½ to two alcoholic drinks per day has significantly decreased risk of heart attacks. Those who averaged a little more (one to two drinks per day) had the lowest risk.
This study provides additional strong evidence that the beneficial effect of drinking alcohol in moderation comes from the alcohol itself rather than from differences in lifestyle.
In addition, many of the mechanisms by which moderate drinking causes the reduction in cardiovascular disease have been demonstrated in other research studies.
Filed Under: Heart