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    Tuesday, January 02, 2007

    Drink to Your Health: Research published today says that drinking moderate amounts of alcohol may decrease the risk of heart attacks:

    The researchers analyzed data from 11,711 hypertensive men from the Health Professionals Follow-Up Study, which was launched in 1986. Every four years, participants filled out a survey and noted the frequency with which they drank beer, red wine, white wine and liquor. Cases of non-fatal MI, fatal heart disease and stroke were documented from 1986 to 2002.

    The results showed that, during that time span, 653 cases of total MI were documented, 279 fatal and 374 non-fatal. The authors found that consuming one to two drinks a day was associated with a decreased risk of fatal and non-fatal MI. No association was observed between alcohol consumption and risks of cardiovascular and total mortality. The study also investigated whether men changed their alcohol consumption after hypertension was diagnosed and whether specific alcoholic beverages or number of drinking days per week influenced the risk of heart attack.

    Prior research has shown that one way alcohol consumption decreases the risk of heart disease is by increasing the levels of HDL cholesterol and possibly thinning the blood. Although those mechanisms were not the focus of this study, the relationship between alcohol drinking and lower heart attack risk remained after accounting for many differences between drinkers and non-drinkers, including their diet, physical activity and weight. Very light drinkers who consumed less than one drink every two to three days did not have lower risk than non-drinkers. However, because drinking three or more drinks a day increases blood pressure, it is important to adhere to the USDA guideline of one to two drinks a day or less.

    The article says the study is in today's Annals of Internal Medicine, but as of this writing their web page is still stuck on the December 19 issue. Moderate alcohol is probably good for your heart, but it might not be so good for your liver, something these studies never seem to include.

    Here's a study that suggests the limit should be four drinks a day for men and two drinks a day for women.

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