RAISE A GLASS TO YOUR HEART!
The stream of medical findings, either touting or decrying alcohol consumption, seems endless. Currently, general opinion seems to lean in the direction of pro-consumption for a variety of health benefits. The latest medical news would seem to support that, as two new papers by Canadian researchers are reporting that moderate alcohol intake may help protect against heart disease. One team, at the University of Calgary, reviewed 84 studies that examined alcohol consumption and heart disease, and concluded that people who drink alcohol in moderation are 14 percent to 25 percent less likely to develop heart disease as those who don’t drink alcohol. Another team reviewed 63 studies and found that moderate consumption of alcohol significantly increases levels of “good” cholesterol, which has a protective effect. The findings, published in February in the online issue of the medical journal BMJ, add to evidence from prior studies that found moderate alcohol consumption may be associated with a decreased risk. One expert said the research does seem to support the intake of a little alcohol to help the heart. “In addressing lifestyle issues, alcohol consumption, in moderation, could be recommended as part of a heart-healthy lifestyle,” said Dr. Suzanne Steinbaum, a preventive cardiologist at Lenox Hill Hospital in New York City.
The authors of the second paper, also from the University of Calgary, conclude that it is the alcohol content that provides the health benefits, not the type of alcoholic beverage. Steinbaum agreed. “One of the mechanisms of decreasing heart disease is by increasing the HDL, which is independent of the type of alcohol, whether it be wine, beer or spirits,” she said.