Middle-aged men who drink up to 7 small glasses of wine or about 3.5 pints of beer a week are associated with a 20 percent lower risk of developing heart failure when compared to their non-drinking counterparts, according to Harvard Medical School researchers.
Researchers also found that the apparent protective effects were more marginal in women, but up to 7 drinks a week still gave moderate female drinkers a 16 percent reduced risk of heart failure over women who abstained from drinking.
Researcher Scott Solomon said, "These findings suggest that drinking alcohol in moderation does not contribute to an increased risk of heart failure and may even be protective. The study shows there is an association between drinking moderate amounts of alcohol and a lower risk of heart failure but this does not necessarily mean that moderate alcohol consumption causes the lowered risk, although we did adjust the results to take account for a variety of other lifestyle factors."
The study also suggested that people who had been heavy drinkers in their youth were at greater risk of developing heart failure later in life, with a 19 percent and 17 percent increased risk among men and women respectively compared with abstainers.
The research has been published in the European Heart Journal.