A new study opposes the belief that a little bit of alcohol can be good for your heart. The study takes into account over 50 previously performed studies that looked at both the drinking habits and heart conditions of more than 260,000 people.
After combing through copious amounts of data, the researchers discovered that reducing alcohol consumption, even for those people that drink lightly, can be good for the heart.
Drinking less can reduce the risk of coronary heart disease and lower both body mass index (BMI) and blood pressure. In fact, the researchers found that drinking less or not at all can reduce the risk of coronary heart disease by a whopping 10 percent.
“While the damaging effects of heavy alcohol consumption on the heart are well-established, for the last few decades we’ve often heard reports of the potential health benefits of light-to-moderate drinking,” study senior author Juan Casas, a professor of epidemiology at the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine, said. “However, we now have evidence that some of these studies suffer from limitations that may affect the validity of their findings.“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.”
It has not been easy for researchers to study alcohol and how it impacts the human heart. Trials can be hard to carry out, since the participants would have to drink scheduled amounts of alcohol, which could interfere with daily life.
For this study, however, researchers were able to look at a specific gene that essentially can serve as an indicator of alcohol consumption. By using that, they were able to bypass trials and look at the project through a genetic lens.
The study was funded by the British Heart Foundation and the Medical Research Council, and was published in The BMJ.