Drinking Alcohol and Risk of Cardiovascular Disease: Research Evidence

A systematic review and meta-analysis was conducted of 84 prospective cohort studies that examined alcohol consumption in relation to cardiovascular disease, coronary heart disease, and all-cause mortality.

The scientists found that, compared with not drinking alcohol, consuming alcohol was associated with a 25% reduced risk of death from either cardiovascular disease or coronary heart diseasee, a 29% reduced risk of death from incident or recurring coronary heart disease, and a 13% reduced risk of death from any cause.

Some observers have suggested that the inclusion of "sick quitters" within the category of abstainers biases research findings on the relationship between drinking and health/longevity. That is, if many abstainers have quit drinking because of poor health, this might exaggerate the positive benefits of drinking in moderation compared to not drinking. However, the evidence from these 84 studies does not support that hypothesis.

The authors concluded that "The results confirm the beneficial effects of moderate alcohol consumption" and that it is associated with a reduced risk of mortality from cardiovascular diseases. These are the major causes of death in developed countries.


  • Ronksley, P.E., Brien, S.E., Turner, B.J., Mulkamal, K.J, and Ghali, W.A. Association of alcohol consumption with selected cardiovascular disease outcomes: a systematic review and meta-analysis. British Medical Journal, 2011, 324, 671.

Filed Under: Heart

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