Alcohol and the Heart 411

Alcohol and the Heart 411

We often hear that wine is good for the heart.  Is that true?  TBE asked A. Marc Gillinov, Cleveland Clinic cardiac surgeon and co-author with Steven Nissen, MD, chair of Cardiovascular Medicine, of the new book Heart 411. Dr. Gillinov writes:

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“Large observational studies show that people who drink alcohol in moderation tend to live longer and develop less heart disease than teetotalers or those who drink to excess. ‘Moderate’ alcohol consumption means 1 to 2 drinks per day for men and 1 drink per day for women.

Alcohol tends to  increase HDL (good) cholesterol and reduces the tendency of blood to clot by its action on platelets. Heartwise, these are good effects.  And they are not limited to red wine.  A recent review study out of Italy supports a distinct relationship between both wine and beer intake and reduced vascular risk.

Keep in mind that everything we know about the beneficial effects of alcohol comes from observational research. No one has ever done the kind of  large-scale, randomized, placebo-controlled study that provides conclusive proof.  And the benefits of alcohol need to be weighed against its unquestioned negative outcomes – like a higher risk of breast, throat and colorectal cancer, and its  association with death and injury from traffic accidents.

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Our prescription: If you drink alcohol, drink in moderation. This means no more than two drinks per day for men and no more than one drink per day for women. A glass of wine (or beer or a scotch) a day can be part of a heart healthy lifestyle.”

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