Even Modest Drinking Raises Risk of Heart Disease

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Contrary to the hypothesis that moderate drinking can be heart-healthy, a new study published in the British Medical Journal indicates that even light to moderate drinking increases the risk of heart disease.

In a large, randomized meta-study, researchers examined patient data from 261,991 European adults derived from 56 studies. Participants were classified as nondrinkers, light drinkers, moderate drinkers or heavy drinkers. The researchers also used a gene variation to determine alcohol intake—a genetic marker that indicates low alcohol consumption of less than 10 milliliters (about a third of an ounce) per week.

They found that those with the gene variation—and thus are virtually nondrinkers— had a significantly lower risk of heart disease, including stroke and hypertension, and that even light drinking significantly increased heart disease risk. The researchers concluded: “These findings suggest that reductions of alcohol consumption, even for light to moderate drinkers, may be beneficial for cardiovascular health.”

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