Friday, October 27, 2006

Drinks: Alcohol Lowers Heart Attack Risk

A study shows: Among men with healthy lifestyles, those who consume moderate amounts of alcohol have a 40 to 60 percent reduced risk of heart attack compared with healthy men who don´t drink at all.

"This latest research speaks to how robust the link is between moderate drinking and heart attack risk," explains lead author Kenneth Mukamal, MD, MPH, Associate Professor of Medicine at Harvard Medical School. " Studies have consistently found an association between moderate alcohol consumption and reduced heart attack risk in men.

But up to now they could not answer the question if the men who drank in moderation were the same individuals who maintained good eating habits, didn't smoke, exercised and watched their weight and if their reduced risk of myocardial infarction wasn't the result of one or more of these other healthy habits.

The members of the group that was studied, reported four healthy lifestyle behaviours: body mass index (BMI) of less than 25; moderate to vigorous physical activity for at least 30 minutes per day; abstention from smoking; and a healthy diet. Over a follow-up period of 16 years, the authors assessed the participants' daily alcohol intake (beer, white wine, red wine, or spirits) using a standardized and validated questionnaire. Between 1986 and 2002, 106 men had heart attacks. This included eight of the 1,282 who drank between 15 and 29.9 grams of alcohol per day (the equivalent of two drinks), nine of the 714 who drank 30 grams or more per day (more than two drinks), 34 of the 2,252 who drank .

1 to 4.9 grams per day and 28 of the 1,889 who did not drink at all. Their final analysis showed that among the subjects who were able to maintain all four healthy behaviours for at least a portion of the follow-up time, those who consumed alcohol in moderation had a 40 to 60 percent lower risk of heart attack than either the non-drinkers or the very light drinkers. "Based on these numbers, we estimate that approximately 25 percent of the heart attacks that occurred among these healthy individuals might be attributed to abstention [or extremely light drinking]," explains Mukamal.

Source: Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center

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