A drink a day may keep grandpa’s doctor away

By HSC Staff Writer • Published: October 6th, 2006
Category: Health in a Heartbeat

Older adults who consume a few drinks a week are more likely to ward off heart disease and live longer than those who don’t drink.

But according to a new multicenter study led by University of Florida researchers, the reasons why alcohol protects the heart are still unclear.

Published in the Archives of Internal Medicine, the study findings suggest the heart benefits of imbibing even one drink a week might be tied to cellular, molecular or genetic effects.

The researchers evaluated nearly twenty-five-hundred men and women ages seventy to seventy nine who had no history of heart disease.

Compared with the group of people who either never drank or were occasional drinkers, those who reported being moderate drinkers… consuming one to seven drinks a week… were twenty-six percent less likely to die and almost thirty percent less likely to experience a heart attack or heart disease.

Cardiovascular disease is among the main causes of hospitalization and death in the United States and Europe, so researchers say a thirty percent reduction may have important clinical and public health implications.

Scientists have suspected that alcohol’s anti-inflammatory properties explain the reduced risk of heart attack or death, the researchers report, but this study showed that the benefits existed regardless of the levels of inflammatory markers in the blood.

Researchers warn that alcohol consumption doesn’t help everyone. In fact, they found alcohol’s beneficial effects disappeared for people who reported regularly consuming eight or more drinks a week.