July 7, 2022

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Does drinking small amounts of alcohol really benefit cardiovascular health? 

Does drinking small amounts of alcohol really benefit cardiovascular health? 



 

Does drinking small amounts of alcohol really benefit cardiovascular health? 


People usually think that drinking is a good thing, and we all know that drinking alcohol is bad for you . There are also numerous studies examining the association between alcohol consumption and health, but these findings are indeed equivocal.

 

For example, a study published in the European Journal of Preventive Cardiology in 2021 showed that [1] , compared with never drinking alcohol, light alcohol consumption was associated with a lower risk of cardiovascular disease and lower mortality from all causes .

In addition, in July 2021, a study published in the journal BMC Medicine by researchers from University College London also pointed out [2] that drinking no more than 105 grams of alcohol per week may be associated with heart attack, stroke, angina pectoris or cardiovascular disease. associated with a reduced risk of death in patients with the disease.

 

According to a study published in The Lancet in 2018 [3] , the alcohol consumption with the least harm to health is not drinking at all. A study published in The Lancet Oncology in 2021 further pointed out [4] that more than 740,000 people will have cancer due to alcohol consumption in 2020, and even a small amount of alcohol consumption will significantly increase the incidence of cancer.

 

So, is drinking in moderation bad for your health? Why are there observational studies finding cardiovascular benefits of moderate alcohol consumption?

 

On March 25, 2022, researchers from the Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard published a paper titled: Association of Habitual Alcohol Intake With Risk of Cardiovascular Disease in JAMA Network Open , a sub-journal of JAMA .  [5] .

 

The study of 371,463 adults in the UK BioBank (average age 57 years, average 9.2 standard drinks per week) found that those who drank light to moderate alcohol were less likely to develop heart disease. The risk was lowest, followed by abstainers, and heavy drinkers had the highest risk of heart disease.

 

The research team further found that people who drank light to moderate alcohol tended to lead healthier lifestyles than abstainers, with more physical activity and vegetable intake and less smoking.

 

Therefore, the observed cardiovascular benefits of low-level alcohol consumption are actually due to differences in lifestyle, and after this factor is excluded, alcohol consumption no longer has health benefits.

 

Does drinking small amounts of alcohol really benefit cardiovascular health? 

 

Because the alcohol content of various types of wine is different, in order to measure the amount of drinking, the “Alcohol Unit” is usually used as a standard. 1 alcohol unit is also called 1 standard cup , and 1 alcohol unit corresponds to 10 ml of pure alcohol. Alcohol.

A 500ml bottle of beer with 5% alcohol content corresponds to 2.5 alcohol units, a 750ml bottle of wine with 12% alcohol content corresponds to 9 alcohol units, and a 500ml bottle of liquor with 53% alcohol content corresponds to 26.5 alcohol units .

 

Does drinking small amounts of alcohol really benefit cardiovascular health? 

Alcohol units corresponding to different alcoholic beverages (standard cup)

 

First, the team found that people who drank light to moderate alcohol had the lowest risk of heart disease, followed by abstainers, and those who drank heavily had the highest risk of heart disease.

 

Does drinking small amounts of alcohol really benefit cardiovascular health? 

 

But further analysis showed that the benefit was due to healthier lifestyles among those who drank light to moderate alcohol .

 

Next, the research team used Mendelian randomization to try to find whether there was a causal relationship between alcohol consumption and disease risk.

The results showed that individuals with genetic variants that predicted higher alcohol consumption were indeed more likely to drink heavily and had a higher risk of high blood pressure and coronary artery disease.

 

In addition, increasing alcohol consumption from 0 to 7 standard drinks per week was associated with a small increase in cardiovascular disease risk, an increase from 7 to 14 drinks per week, a higher increase in cardiovascular disease risk, and a particularly high increase in risk above 21 drinks, This shows that alcohol consumption is not linearly related to the increased risk of cardiovascular disease, and the more you drink, the greater the increased risk.

 

Notably, even following the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism recommendations (no more than 1 standard drink per day for women and 2 standard drinks per day for men) still increases the risk of cardiovascular disease.

 

Does drinking small amounts of alcohol really benefit cardiovascular health? 

 

Overall, the study showed that even small amounts of alcohol consumption increased cardiovascular disease risk , and that cardiovascular disease risk increased rapidly as alcohol consumption increased.

 

What’s more, the study explains the previously observed cardiovascular benefit of moderate alcohol consumption, which is due to the fact that people who drink light to moderate alcohol have healthier lifestyles than those who don’t drink.

 

In March 2022, researchers from the University of Pennsylvania and the University of Wisconsin-Madison published a research paper in Nature Communications, a sub-journal of Nature [6], showing that alcohol consumption is associated with reduced brain volume, even mild to moderate drinking. It will cause damage to the brain. The average amount of drinking a bottle of beer a day is equivalent to two years of aging.

 


 

These studies all tell us that there is no so-called safe amount of alcohol, and the best amount of alcohol is not to drink. Even small amounts of alcohol can lead to an increased risk of cancer, increased risk of cardiovascular disease, damage to the brain, and more.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Reference :
1. https://doi.or/10.1093/eurjpc/zwab177
2. https://doi.org/10.1186/s12916-021-02040-2
3. https://doi.org/10.1016/S0140-6736(18)32203-7
4. https://doi.org/10.1016/S1470-2045(21)00279-5
5. https://doi.org/10.1001/jamanetworkopen.2022.384 9
6. https://www.nature.com/articles/s41467-022-28735-5

Does drinking small amounts of alcohol really benefit cardiovascular health? 

(source:internet, reference only)


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