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Benefits of Moderate Drinking Differ According to Race

Guidelines might need modification to reflect racial differences, researcher says

MONDAY, April 27, 2015 (HealthDay News) -- Moderate drinking appears to offer greater health benefits to whites than to blacks, according to a study published online April 23 in the American Journal of Public Health.

Previous research found a link between moderate drinking and a lower risk of type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and premature death, but the participants in those studies were mostly white. "Current dietary guidelines recommend moderate consumption for adult Americans who consume alcoholic beverages. Our study suggests that additional refinements based on race/ethnicity may be necessary," study author Chandra Jackson, Ph.D., a research associate at the Harvard School of Public Health in Boston, said in a Harvard news release.

In this new study, the researchers analyzed data from 25,811 black adults and 126,369 white adults who took part in the National Health Interview Survey from 1997 to 2002. Follow-up lasted through 2006. Thirteen percent of white men and 24 percent of black men said they never drank. The researchers also found that 23 percent of white women and 42 percent of black women abstained from alcohol. Among men, the lowest mortality risk was among whites who had one to two drinks a day, three to seven days a week, and blacks who didn't drink, the researchers said. For women, the lowest mortality risk was among whites who had one drink a day, three to seven days a week, and blacks who had one drink on two or fewer days a week.

The findings show a need for further investigation of factors that might play a role in the connection between alcohol and mortality risk, Jackson and her colleagues said in the news release. These include diet, physical activity levels, sleep, income, genetics, and gender.

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