Moderate alcohol consumption has widely been heralded as beneficial at reducing the risks of coronary heart disease. A new study from Sahlgrenska Academy at the University of Gothenburg suggests that this benefit only exists in a small portion of the population. The research was published in the journal Alcohol. Moderate alcohol intake has been defined in the study as up to one drink per day for women and up to two drinks per day for men.
The study included 618 patients of both genders younger than 75-years-old. The patients were admitted to hospitals for coronary syndrome and “diagnosed with myocardial infarction, with a typical history, ECG, and enzyme changes or unstable angina,” according to Medical News Today. These participants and just under 3,000 heart-healthy controls were given questionnaires on pertinent variables. Body measurements and venous blood samples were also taken.
The samples were used to see if the CETP TaqIB genotype was present. This genotype has been found to play a role in the decreased risks of coronary heart disease. In this study, the samples were also tested to determine if the study participants had the B1 or B2 alleles of the genotype.
The study found that the B2 carriers were markedly more likely to benefit from moderate alcohol consumption.
“In other words, moderate drinking has a protective effect among only 15% of the general population,” Professor Dag Thelle explained.
The team explained that while the common attitude is that moderate alcohol consumption benefits the hearts of everyone, that no longer appears to be true.
“Moderate drinking alone does not have a strong protective effect,” Professor Lauren Lissner explained. “Nor does this particular genotype. But the combination of the two appears to reduce the risk of coronary heart disease significantly.”
The researchers indicated that one strength of their study is that they examined several levels of alcohol intake. Unfortunately, according to the researchers, self-reported alcohol consumption is often synonymous with under-reporting. Future studies, according to the researchers, should examine alcohol’s preventative link regarding coronary heart disease in this 15 percent of the general population while using data on the participants’ past and current alcohol consumption.
“Our study represents a step in the right direction,” Professor Thelle explained, “but a lot more research is needed. Assuming that we are able to describe these mechanisms, it may be a simple matter one day to perform genetic testing and determine whether someone belongs to the lucky 15%. That would be useful to know when offering advice on healthy alcohol consumption. But the most important thing is to identify new means of using the body’s resources to prevent coronary heart disease.”
Other recent alcohol-related research that challenged popular alcohol-consumption beliefs indicated that more children than previously expected suffer from damage after women drink alcohol moderately during pregnancy. The heart disease study published in Alcohol was funded by the Swedish Research Council, the Swedish Heart-Lung Foundation, and the Swedish council for working life and social research.
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