Jan 21: In a bold move, the World Health Federation released a policy brief yesterday, saying that no amount of alcohol is good for heart as drinking any amount causes damage to the brain, even as critics reiterate that wine in moderation is good for health, with experts already questioning the Report with more reactions expected soon, writes Subhash Arora who still recommends a glass of wine for women and two for men a day, preferably with meal, with an occasional gap
Beatriz Champagne, chairperson of the advocacy committee of World Heart Federation that has produced the report and also executive director of the InterAmerican Heart Foundation in the US, says, "we decided that it was imperative to speak up about the damages to health, as well as the social and economic harms from alcohol because there is a general impression in general, and even among health care professionals that it is good for the heart," asserting that the evidence has increasingly shown that there is no level of alcohol consumption that is safe for health.
Critics immediately challenged the stance of the federation, saying that it was ignoring studies that do show a small benefit to some heart conditions when a moderate amount of alcohol, especially wine is consumed.
One such study on the risks of alcohol, published in the Lancet in 2018, was extensively used in the WHF brief, "but seriously misrepresents, and selectively reports, their findings," said David Spiegelhalter, the Winton Professor for the Public Understanding of Risk at the University of Cambridge. “Given that the WHF report references this paper, it is really odd that their conclusion is that 'no amount of alcohol is good for the heart,'" said Emmanuela Gakidou, a professor at the University of Washington's Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation, who analyses alcohol risks based on the Global Burden of Disease Study, which gathers worldwide data on premature death and disability from over 300 diseases, reported by CNN.
"There are some scientific studies that support their headline, but based on my work on the Global Burden of Disease Study, which pulls together all the available evidence to date, the claim by the WHF is not supported by the scientific evidence currently available," Gakidou said.
"In brief, our position is that studies showing a significant cardio-protective effect of alcohol consumption have by-and-large been observational, inconsistent, funded by the alcohol industry, and/or not subject to randomized control. Furthermore, any potential cardio-protective effect is negated by the well-documented risks and harms, rendering our judgment that no amount of consumption can be considered good for heart health," counters Champagne.
The American Heart Association (AHA), a member of the federation, says "moderation is key" when it comes to alcohol, which is defined as no more than one drink a day for women and two for men.
Dr. Mariell Jessup, the chief science and medical officer for the AHA, says that the AHA will carefully review the WHF brief. She said that the AHA had recently reviewed evidence on alcohol and cardiovascular risk for its 2021 Dietary Guidance Scientific Statement, where they had concluded that if one did not drink alcohol, one was advised not to start and if one did not drink alcohol, to limit the intake.
The global view
The World Health Federation is a Geneva-based health advocacy organization that represents heart associations globally. It released the new policy brief, "The Impact of Alcohol Consumption on Cardiovascular Health: Myths and Measures," to counter reports that some alcohol is OK or even good for heart health.
Drinking alcohol increases the risk of several cardiovascular problems, including coronary disease, heart failure, high blood pressure and stroke, according to the report. "Over the past couple of decades the prevalence of cardiovascular disease has nearly doubled, and alcohol has played a major role in the incidence of much of it," the report says.
The World Health Organization has called for a 10% reduction in the per capita use of alcohol between 2013 and 2030. But the report said a lack of investment in proven alcohol reduction strategies, has stymied progress toward that goal. The misinformation spread by the industry has also had a role to play.
For a detailed and technical Policy Brief, please click
DelWine has always advocated moderation in wine drinking as shown by numerous studies during the last three decades and various records in the past, and continues recommending a glass of wine a day for women and two for men daily with an occasional break during the week. We however, suggest you take the medical advice of your doctor-editor
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