Alcohol Abstainers Who Begin to Drink Reduce Their Risk of Cardiovascular Disease

Researchers at the Medical University of South Carolina have found that middle-aged non-drinkers who began drinking in moderation experienced a 38% lower risk of developing cardiovascular disease compared to those who continued abstaining.

The medical researchers studied 7,697 people between 45 and 64 who were non-drinkers and who were participating in the Atherosclerosis Risk in Communities (ARIC) study over a 10 year period. The investigators found that 6% began consuming alcohol in moderation (up to one drink per day for women and up to two drinks per day for men) during the follow-up period. After 4 years of follow-up, new moderate drinkers had a 38% lower chance of developing cardiovascular disease than did the non-drinkers. Even after adjusting for physical activity, Body Mass Index, demographic and cardiac risk factors, this difference persisted.

This study is important in that it provide more evidence that the reduced risk of cardiovascular disease among moderate drinkers is a result of the alcohol itself rather than any differences in lifestyle, genetics, or other factors.


  • King, Dana E., Mainous, III, Arch G. and Geesey, Mark E. Adopting moderate alcohol consumption in middle-age: Subsequent cardiovascular events. American Journal of Medicine, 2008 (March), 121(3).

filed under: Heart