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Moderate Alcohol Consumption Seen as Heart Healthy

Studies show link between small amounts of alcohol and lower risk of cardiovascular mortality

WEDNESDAY, March 24 (HealthDay News) -- In the general population and in patients with cardiovascular disease, light to moderate alcohol consumption is associated with a lower risk of cardiovascular mortality, according to research published in the March 30 issue of the Journal of the American College of Cardiology.

Kenneth J. Mukamal, M.D., of the Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in Boston, and colleagues analyzed nine iterations of the National Health Interview Survey between 1987 and 2000. They found that light and moderate alcohol consumption -- but not heavy consumption -- were inversely associated with cardiovascular mortality, and that the risk was not significantly different between lifelong abstainers, lifelong rare drinkers, and former drinkers.

Simona Costanzo, of Catholic University in Campobasso, Italy, and colleagues conducted a meta-analysis of eight studies including 16,351 patients with a history of cardiovascular disease. They found that light to moderate alcohol consumption (5 to 25 g/day) -- but not heavy consumption -- was significantly associated with a lower incidence of cardiovascular and all-cause mortality.

"The risks of moderate drinking differ by sex, age, personal history, and family history," writes the author of an accompanying editorial. "As is often the case in medical practice, advice about lifestyle must be based on something less than certainty. There is no substitute for balanced judgment by a knowledgeable, objective health professional. What is required is a synthesis of common sense and the best available scientific facts."

An author from the first study reported a financial relationship with GE Corporate Healthcare.

Abstract - Mukamal
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Abstract - Costanzo
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Editorial (subscription or payment may be required)

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