November 19, 2009

Alcohol May Reduce Heart Disease Risk In Men

Cheers! A new large study issued Thursday has shown that daily alcohol consumption may cut men's risk of heart disease by more than a third, on average.

The study consisted of more than 41,000 men and women in Spain between the ages of 29 and 69. Participants were monitored by researchers for 10 years.

Researchers found that men who drank moderate, high and very high levels of alcohol all saw a decreased risk of heart disease when compared to those who did not drink regularly.

Overall, 609 cases of heart attacks or other coronary events occurred during the course of the study, 481 occurred among men and 128 among women.

According to the report, which appears in the British Medical Association's journal Heart, women who consumed alcohol on a daily basis did not experience the same reduced risk of heart disease as men.

The study, led by researchers at the Basque Public Health Department found that participants who were former drinkers had a 10 percent lowered risk of heart disease, while those who consumed small amounts daily saw a 35 percent risk.

In moderate drinkers, the risk of heart disease was 54 percent lower and very high drinkers saw a risk reduction of more than half.

Spain is the world's third largest producer of beer and wine and has the sixth highest per capita consumption of alcohol. What's more, Spain has one of the lowest death rates from heart disease in the world.

Researchers said the type of alcohol made no difference on the study's findings.

"Whilst moderate alcohol intake can lower the risk of having a heart attack, coronary heart disease is just one type of heart disease. Cardiomyopathy, a disease of the heart muscle, is associated with high alcohol intake and can lead to a poor quality of life and premature death," the British Heart Foundation's senior cardiac nurse, Cathy Ross, told BBC Health.

"The heart is just one of many organs in the body. While alcohol could offer limited protection to one organ, abuse of it can damage the heart and other organs such as the liver, pancreas and brain."


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