Hundreds of studies have found that cardiovascular health is better among moderate drinkers. Many different research methods have been used. They all point to the same conclusion. Moderate drinking improves the health of the circulatory system, including the heart. Moderate drinkers tend to enjoy better health and live longer. That’s compared to either abstainers or alcohol abusers.
Much research has studied how sensible drinking causes better cardiovascular health. Some is laboratory study. Much is observational. Some of that is cross-sectional. Some is prospective. That is, people are followed, ideally for decades, comparing moderate drinkers to abstainers and heavy drinkers. Taken into account are smoking, obesity, gender, and many other things.
Another method is called cross-over. The same study participants go from one treatment or exposure to another. (They ‘cross-over.’) This is in contrast to a method in which participants are randomly selected to be given the same treatment for the entire study.
In this cross-over study, researchers recruited 53 volunteers. They were all postmenopausal women. All had the same diet for six months. They ate two meals each weekday at the study facility. They received food for other meals. There were three eight-week treatments. During one, no alcohol was added to the diet. During another, 15 g of alcohol was added. That’s slightly over one typical drink. During a third, 30 g was added. That’s a little over 2 1/2 drinks. During the six month study their weight remained stable.
During the periods when participants were drinking alcohol, blood factors associated with poor cardiovascular health dropped significantly. This is consistent the results of other research using other methods. This increases confidence in the findings.
These health benefits were obtained from drinking alcohol far in excess of official U.S. federal guidelines for women. Those guidelines are based on political and cultural considerations. They’re not based on medical ones.
Stote KS, et al. The effect of moderate alcohol consumption on biomarkers of inflammation and hemostatic factors in postmenopausal women. Euro J Clin Nutrit, 2015. Advance online pub. doi:10.1038/ejcn.2015.182.
Gillinov, M., and Nissen, S.E. Heart 411: The Only Guide to Heart Health You’ll Ever Need. NY: Three Rivers, 2012.
Healey, J. Cardiovascular Health. Thirroul, NSW, Australia: Spinney, 2012.
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