Light-to-moderate drinking good for your heart

Feb 18, 2016

People who drink wine, liquor or beer regularly are less prone to heart failure and heart attacks than those who rarely or never drink. Three to five drinks a week can be good for your heart.

Drinking a little alcohol every day may be part of a healthy lifestyle, according to Imre Janszky, a professor of social medicine at the Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU). He says alcohol does more good than harm for your heart when consumed in moderation.

And, Janszky says, it doesn’t matter much whether you drink wine, liquor or beer.

“It’s primarily the alcohol that leads to more good cholesterol, among other things. But alcohol can also cause higher blood pressure. So it’s best to drink moderate amounts relatively often,” he says.

Decreased risk with each additional serving

Along with a number of colleagues from NTNU and the Karolinska Institute in Stockholm, Janszky has published two studies regarding the relationship between alcohol and heart health. One, published in the January 15 issue of the International Journal of Cardiology, is about heart failure. The second, from September 2015, is on acute myocardial infarction (AMI), and has been published in the Journal of Internal Medicine.

In both cases, research shows that people who regularly drink alcohol have better cardiovascular health than those who consume little or no alcohol.

The studies showed that those who drank three to five drinks per week were 33 per cent less prone to heart failure than those who abstained or drank infrequently. In the case of heart attacks, the risk appears to be reduced by 28 percent with each additional one-drink increment.

This does not surprise the researchers at all.

A majority of researchers worldwide seem to think three to five drinks a week can be good for your heart.

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10 comments on “Light-to-moderate drinking good for your heart

  • I suggest we celebrate whilst we can. This advice will be withdrawn in a few years.

    What is clear is that the risks and possible boons of truly modest drinking (curiously, exactly like mine), are truly modest when compared to the big ticket risks and boons of diet, excercise and being born to particular parents in particular countries.


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  • Stay sober folks, or you’ll miss the next change in the findings.

    I’ve been drinking every evening for forty years; unless I haven’t felt like to doing so; doesn’t seem to have done any harm; hic!

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  • Oh no. Not alcohol. The last time booze was a topic on this site I was in a rage for several days. Everyone was saying that AA is a cult, and a religion.
    Anyway, I will just say this and leave AA out of it: if you’re an alcoholic NO amount of alcohol is good for you. End of story.

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  • Centauri:

    The symptoms of alcoholic liver disease and cirrhosis do not appear until after it is already too late.

    That’s why I have a blood test every few months; so far no sign.

    I also do two hours in the gym twice a week, alternating between that and swimming: gym day, rest day, swim day, rest day and so on.

    Every now and again I clap out though, and I’ve just spent a week recovering from a bout of bronchitis.

    And although I can hardly believe it, I’ve also been cycling for forty years.

    None the less, I could drop dead at any time, so I may as well carry on enjoying my tipple.

    You’re right Dan, but there are many gradations between alcoholism and being teetotal; it would appear that I’m somewhere in the middle of the range, and I never drink during the day, even at weddings and so on.

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  • Blood tests can give positive but misleading results. Often the numbers look fine even though much liver damage has occurred. That’s the beauty of the liver – you can function with just 10% of it.

    In other words, you’re in a lot of trouble but are further consoled by blood test results that can’t show the full extent of the disease.

    The exercise you mention is helpful in staving off some of the cardiovascular problems caused by alcohol, for now, and they can help keep fatty liver from worsening. But they really don’t protect liver cells from being destroyed and fibrosis and cirrhosis from marching forward if you are consuming more than 14 units per week.

    Your only definitive test is to get a liver fibrosis scan. Let the doctor lubricate your side and put some ultrasound waves through it, and get a ‘hardness’ score.

    As Ripley said in Aliens, “it’s the only way to be sure”.

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