It’s just about time to head back to the ceaseless debate over alcohol and health. What is well recognized is that drinking in excess is in no way good for the body, yet the evidence continues to stack up about the health benefits of sipping one or two alcoholic drinks a day. And a new study now brings this even further into perspective.
Researchers at Boston’s Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center have again proved that drinking alcohol in moderation each day can be good for the cardiovascular system. This time, it reduced the risk of getting a heart attack, particularly for those high at risk of experiencing one.
However, by targeting a questionable idea, the researchers also say that the benefits of one or two drinks a day also extend to perfectly healthy individuals who exercise and eat nutritiously. And by individuals we mean men, who were the subjects of this study.
Doctors everywhere are naturally tentative in actually going so far as to recommend a little drinking to their patients. But with results such as these, it might make them even more comfortable to do just that. There are more effective ways to lower your risk of heart attack and heart disease than just taking up moderate drinking. But for men who are already taking these measures, can one or two glasses a day be added to the repertoire for greater protection?
According to the study, yes, it can. The researchers collected data on heart attacks and alcohol use in about 9,000 men. All participants did not smoke, kept a relatively healthy diet, were not overweight, and exercised about half an hour a day. Over a 16-year period, 106 of the men suffered a heart attack. Eight of them were among those who had two drinks a day, nine were among those who had more than two a day, and 28 were among those who didn’t drink at all. See the stark difference?
The men who had two alcohol beverages a day had the lowest heart attack risk. Those who abstained had the highest heart attack risk. The researchers believe guidelines may need to be rewritten concerning how beneficial alcohol can be to healthy men. (They say the effect would likely be the same for women.)
Whether doctors take the rather pointed step of actually recommending alcohol to patients is a decision that will be left up to each one on an individual basis. Should nondrinkers actually have one or two glasses a day for better heart health? Many experts agree that two glasses a day for men and one for women provides excellent protection for the heart. The best drink is red wine, but beer and spirits have also been proven to be beneficial as well.
Whether or not family physicians decide to recommend alcohol to patients doesn’t hinder the fact that moderate drinking lowers your risk of heart attack. Period.