Drinking and Heart Disease
Some studies carried out on middle- aged population seem to indicate that moderate consumption of alcohol can have a beneficial effect on coronary heart disease (CHD) This age group constitutes a high- risk group for CHD whereas among young individuals no beneficial effects of alcohol can be seen.
Although there is an association between moderate drinking and lower CHD risk, science has not confirmed that alcohol itself causes the lower risk. It is plausible that the lower risk might result from some as yet unidentified factor or surrogate such as lifestyle, diet and exercise or additives to alcoholic beverages.
Moderate drinking is not “risk free.” The trade off between the risk and benefit can be exemplified by the fact that alcohol’s anti clotting activity may increase the risk of hemorrhagic stroke or bleeding within the brain.
Heavy consumption of alcohol is positively associated with many diseases including liver diseases and cancer. It also causes trauma due to the higher number of road crashes and a lowering of overall health and nutritional status.
Unless and until these issues are clarified the most prudent advice is as follows.
- Individuals who are not currently drinking should not be encouraged to drink solely for health benefits and these are yet unproven to be from alcohol itself.
- Individuals who choose to drink and are not at risk for alcohol related problems should not exceed the one to two drinks a day limit one drink for women and two drinks for men.
- Individuals who drink beyond this limit should be advised on the detrimental factors due to excessive consumption and be advised to lower their intake.
The Mediterranean Diet followed by Greeks and other Mediterranean residents offers some protection against heart diseases.
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