A 12-year study of 38,077 male health professionals found that men who drank alcohol three or more days per week had a reduced risk of heart attack compared with men who drank less frequently. Men who drank less than one drink a day had similar risk reduction to those who drank three.
Many epidemiologic studies have reported that moderate drinking--for men two drinks a day--is associated with a reduced risk of heart disease. This study looked at the relationship between quantity and frequency and found that it was the frequency of drinking--not the amount, the type of alcohol, or whether or not it was consumed with a meal--that was the key factor in lowered heart disease risk. Compared with men who drank less than once a week, men who consumed alcohol three or four days a week had approximately 2/3 (68 percent) the risk of heart attack, and men who consumed alcohol five to seven days per week had slightly less (63 percent) the risk. Study data suggested no additional cardiac benefit to drinking more than 2 drinks a day. Also, the study authors point out that the small number of study participants who drank roughly three and a half or more drinks (50 or more grams of alcohol) per day limited their ability to study the harmful effects of heavy drinking. However, heavy drinking has well documented adverse health effects.
The study, published in this weeks New England Journal of Medicine, was based on an analysis of data from the Health Professionals Follow-up Study, which has followed a population of male dentists, veterinarians, optometrists, osteopathic physicians, and podiatrists, ages 40 to 75, for 12 years. Kenneth J. Mukamal, M.D., M.P.H., at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, was lead author for the project, which included scientists from the University of Sydney, Sydney, Australia; the Harvard School of Public Health, Boston; Brigham and Womens Hospital, Harvard Medical School, Boston; and the Massachusetts General Hospital, Boston. The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA), the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI), and the National Cancer Institute, all components of the federal governments National Institutes of Health, supported the study.
Ann Bradley | EurekAlert!
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