A recent study published in the JAMA network open contradicts previous observational studies that found mild alcohol intake to be beneficial to heart health.
The findings of these studies, which were published by a team led by researchers from Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH) and the Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard, suggest that the supposed benefits of alcohol consumption could be attributed to other lifestyle factors common among light to moderate drinkers.
The UK Biobank enrolled 371,463 persons, with an average age of 57 years and an average alcohol intake of 9.2 drinks per week.
Light to moderate drinkers had the lowest risk of heart disease, followed by abstainers which were consistent with previous studies. People who consumed a lot of alcohol were at the greatest danger. Light to moderate drinkers had healthier lifestyles than abstainers, with more physical activity and vegetable intake, as well as less smoking.
Taking a few lifestyle factors into consideration considerably reduced any potential advantage from alcohol use. The study also used the Mendelian randomization method, which examines genetic Polymorphisms to see if a correlation between an exposure and an outcome is compatible with a causal impact, in this case, if mild alcohol use protects a person against cardiovascular disease.
The results of the tested samples taken from the participants suggest an increase in cardiovascular risk even at levels labeled “low risk” by national standards from the United States Department of Agriculture, i.e. less than two drinks per day for men and one drink per day for women.
The data confirm that drinking alcohol is not recommended for improving cardiovascular health; rather, lowering alcohol use will likely lower cardiovascular risk in all people.