Drinking moderate amounts of
alcohol can benefit overall heart health, according to new
research published in the May 2007 issue of the journal
Addiction. In the study, scientists at the University of
Buffalo found that drinking alcohol is associated with a
lower risk of heart attack in women, reports Wine Spectator.
While it's generally accepted that drinking
alcohol responsibly is associated with a lower risk of cardiovascular
diseases, few studies have examined the drinking behaviors
of women in particular, explained Prof. Joan Dorn of the
department of Social and Preventative Medicine at the university,
who led the study.
Dorn, whose previous research found that
drinking wine is not directly related to weight gain, this
time concluded that wine drinkers had a 44 percent lower
risk of heart attack when compared to nondrinkers, and also
had a lower risk than drinkers of beer or spirits.
"This isn't a reason to take two glasses of wine with
two aspirin right before bed," cautioned Dorn. "
The wine-drinking women, who showed the most protection,
were the ones who drank responsibly, such as a glass of
wine with lunch, dinner and maybe one between then and bedtime,"
The research pulled data on participants
in the Western New York Health Study, which ran from 1996
to 2001 and examined alcohol drinking and the impact on
the risk of chronic diseases. A total of 1,885 women, ranging
in age from 35 to 69 years old, were included in the analysis.
Of those, 320 had previously survived a heart attack.
The researchers compared the drinking
habits of women who hadn't had heart attacks to those who
did, and came up with risk factors based on consumption
habits. They found that wine-drinking women, as well as
mixed-pattern drinkers, were at a 44 percent lower risk
of having a heart attack than nondrinkers. Women who preferred
beer or liquor also showed a lower risk than abstainers,
at 26 percent and 12 percent lower risk, respectively
Frequency of alcohol consumption also
had an effect, as women who drank daily were at 52 percent
lower risk when compared to nondrinkers. While those who
drank only a few times a week or a few times a month showed
a reduced risk of heart attack, it wasn't to the same degree
as those who drank daily.
The protective effect of alcohol increased
with the amount of drinks per day, as well. Women who had
one to two drinks per day were 33 percent less likely to
have a heart attack than abstainers, and women who drank
two to three drinks per day had a 40 percent lower risk.
Women who had three or more drinks per
day were at the highest level of protection, with a 48 percent
lower risk of heart attack. Dorn added, though, that the
women in this category never drank this much in one sitting,
as it would lead to intoxication, a risk factor for heart
attacks. Instead the women spread out their consumption
during the day.
"The women in this category had a
familiarity with proper wine consumption," Dorn said.
"Women who drank and felt intoxicated many times a
month were, in some cases, up to six times more likely to
have a heart attack than women who didn't drink.
"Conventional advice is for those
who don't drink, not to start," added Dorn. "And
for those that do, consult your doctor before changing your
The study is quiet about the ones
that show increased risk of breast cancer if women drink
more than a glass a day. Of course, with proper intake of
folic acid, the risk is reduced to practically nil, but
women should not increase wine consumption to have a better
heart condition. Drink a glass or two is our advice to women,
based on discussions with several doctors in the USA-editor