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Drink Up Johnny!

November 19, 2009

Alcohol Cuts CHD Risk in Men

Consumption of alcohol in almost any quantity is associated with a nearly one-third reduction in the incidence of coronary heart disease (CHD) — at least in men, a large Spanish study confirmed.

Reporting online in Heart, Larraitz Arriola, PhD, of the public health department in San Sebastian and colleagues wrote that a multivariate analysis determined the following reductions of CHD risk at these consumption levels:

* Low levels of alcohol (0 to 5 mg/day), HR 0.65 (95% CI 0.41 to 1.04)
* Moderate levels (5 to 30 g/day), HR 0.49 (95% CI 0.32 to 0.75)
* High levels (30 to 90 g/day), HR 0.46 (95% CI 0.30 to 0.71)
* Very high levels (more than 90 g/day), HR 0.50 (95% CI 0.29 to 0.85)

No significant associations were seen for women, however.

Many studies have examined the association between alcohol use and CHD. Most have suggested that moderate intake reduces the risk, with effects on high-density lipoprotein cholesterol, clotting factors, insulin sensitivity, and inflammation providing biologic plausibility for the observation.

However, scientists still debate whether the the association is truly causal, and whether the studies have been marred by “abstainer error.”

Abstainer error refers to classification of participants who had recently stopped drinking — usually because of declining health, frailty, or disability — as nondrinkers.

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