Alcohol every day can cut heart disease – but only for men

Drinking alcohol may cut the risk of heart disease by almost a third in men, research suggests, but experts are critical, warning heavy drinking can increase the risk of other diseases...

Drinking alcohol every day cuts the risk of heart disease in men by more than a third, a major study suggests.

A Spanish study of 41,000 people aged 29 to 69 found drinking alcohol could protect men from heart disease, but no significant effect was found in women.

For those men drinking little – less than a shot of vodka a day for instance – the risk was reduced by 35%. And for those who drank anything from three shots to more than 11 shots each day, the risk worked out an average of 50% less.

The exact mechanisms are as yet unclear, but it is known that alcohol helps to raise high-density lipoproteins, sometimes known as good cholesterol, which helps stop so-called bad cholesterol from building up in the arteries.

Experts are critical, warning heavy drinking can increase the risk of other diseases, with alcohol responsible for 1.8 million deaths globally per year.

Cathy Ross, of the British Heart Foundation, said: ‘The heart protective benefits of alcohol are well documented. But while alcohol could offer limited protection to one organ, abuse of it can damage other organs such as the liver, pancreas and brain.’

The Stroke Association meanwhile noted that overall, evidence indicated that people who regularly consumed a large amount of alcohol had a three-fold increased risk of stroke.

‘Six units within six hours is considered ‘binge-drinking’ and anyone indulging in regular ‘binge-drinking’ increases their risk of stroke greatly,’ said research officer Joanne Murphy.

In the UK, the recommendation is no more than two to three units of alcohol a day for women – the equivalent of one standard glass of wine – and three to four units for men.


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