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Moderate Drinking May Be Less Beneficial for Blacks

Guidelines might need modification to reflect racial differences, researcher says

THURSDAY, April 23, 2015 (HealthDay News) -- Moderate drinking appears to offer greater health benefits to whites than to blacks, a new study suggests.

Previous research found a link between moderate drinking and a lower risk of type 2 diabetes, heart 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, a research associate at Harvard School of Public Health in Boston, said in a Harvard news release.

In this new study, the researchers analyzed data from more than 25,800 black adults and more than 126,300 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 were teetotalers.

Among men, the lowest risk of death was among whites who had 1 to 2 drinks a day, 3 to 7 days a week, and blacks who didn't drink, the researchers said. For women, the lowest risk of death was among whites who had 1 drink a day, 3 to 7 days a week, and blacks who had 1 drink on 2 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 death risk, Jackson and her colleagues said in the news release. These include diet, physical activity levels, sleep, income, genetics and gender.

The study was published online April 23 in the American Journal of Public Health.

More information

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has more about alcohol and health.

SOURCE: Harvard School of Public Health, news release, April 23, 2015
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