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," she explained.
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
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 behavior."
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 doctor in the USA-editor