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Study reconfirms moderate alcohol benefits.

Light to moderate consumption of beverage alcohol--liquor, beer or wine--may reduce the risk of coronary heart disease among men by approximately 30 percent, according to a study published in the New England Journal of Medicine.

According to the study, moderate alcohol consumption was consistently associated with a lower risk of coronary heart disease. The study found that, "No single type of beverage conferred additional benefit, nor did consumption with meals...The drinking pattern had an important effect, with the lowest relative risks among men who consumed alcohol three or more days per week, even if the amount consumed per drinking day was small to moderate."

The study, conducted by Kenneth J. Mukamal, M.D. and colleagues from Harvard University, examined the association of alcohol consumption with the risk of heart attacks among 38,077 male health professionals 40 to 75 years of age.

The participants were assessed every four years over a 12 year period about their consumption of liquor, beer, red wine and white wine. This study looked at how different types of beverage alcohol, different drinking patterns and drinking with or without meals impacted the risk of coronary heart disease. "It was a surprise that-- almost regardless of other factors associated with drinking-- frequency of use seemed to be what reduced the subsequent risk of a heart attack," said Dr. Mukamal.

It made almost no difference whether the drinking consisted of half a drink or four. Those who imbibed only once or twice a week had only a 16 percent lower risk of a heart attack.

Some studies have indicated that alcohol raises the level of "good" cholesterol and also thins the blood, warding off the clots that cause heart attacks. But alcohol breaks down fairly rapidly in the body and its effects on red blood cells are short-lived.

Mukamal speculated that regular, moderate drinking is beneficial because it helps keep the blood thinned. "We think it may be much like people who take aspirin every day or every other day. A little bit of alcohol on a regular basis helps keep the platelets from becoming sticky and prevents heart attacks," he said.
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Publication:Modern Brewery Age
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Jan 20, 2003
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