Light Drinking Not So Heart Healthy, Study Suggests

Light Drinking Not So Heart Healthy, Study Suggests
Light Drinking Not So Heart Healthy, Study Suggests

(HealthDay News) — Cutting alcohol intake -- even for light-to-moderate drinkers -- may benefit heart health, according to research published July 10 in BMJ.

Researchers analyzed more than 50 studies that examined drinking habits and heart health in >260,000 people.

They found that carriers of the rs1229984 variant in the alcohol dehydrogenase 1B gene (ADH1B) (tied to lower levels of drinking) generally had healthier hearts. The gene affects how a person's body breaks down alcohol, resulting in unpleasant symptoms such as nausea and facial flushing. Having this variant has been shown to lead to lower drinking over the long term, the researchers explained. On average, people with the gene had lower blood pressure, lower body mass index, and a 10% lower risk of heart disease.

"In our study, we saw a link between a reduced consumption of alcohol and improved cardiovascular health, regardless of whether the individual was a light, moderate, or heavy drinker," study senior author Juan Casas, MD, PhD, a professor of epidemiology at the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine, said in a university news release. The study could only show an association between the two, however, it couldn't prove cause-and-effect. Further large-scale gene studies are needed to confirm these findings, the researchers said.

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