Alcohol And Your Heart

The notion that an alcoholic drink or two per day is good for your heart isn’t a sure thing. Results of a new analysis suggest that studies showing that people who drink moderately have lower rates of heart disease compared to non-drinkers may not be the whole story. Researchers at Canada’s University of Victoria reviewed 45 earlier studies and theorized that some people identified as “non-drinkers” may have been former drinkers who quit for health reasons. That may be why the abstainers in previous studies were in worse health than the drinkers. Something else to consider: the fact that drinkers were healthier than non-drinkers in the studies may not be due to alcohol they consumed but to the good health that permitted them to continue enjoying a daily drink or two. The analysis did affirm that the drinkers in the 45 studies reviewed had a lower rate of heart disease than the non-drinkers. But the reviewers concluded that many were able to drink because they already were healthy – not that the alcohol was necessarily responsible for their good health.

My take? These conclusions are worth considering, but I doubt that they’ll be the final word on the subject. Even if we were sure that alcohol protects against heart disease, if you don’t drink, I wouldn’t suggest that you take up the habit as a way to support cardiovascular health. You have better alternatives – prudent diet and adequate exercise, for example. On the other hand, if you’re healthy and drink moderately, there’s no reason not to continue. My own drinking habits are quite modest. I enjoy premium Japanese sake once in a while and, less often, a glass of wine.


Tim Stockwell et al, “Alcohol Consumption and Mortality From Coronary Heart Disease: An Updated Meta-Analysis of Cohort Studies.” Journal of Studies on Alcohol and Drugs, May 21, 2017; 78 (3): 375 DOI: 10.15288/jsad.2017.78.375


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