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Light Drinking Poses No Heart Risk for Women
Date:12/2/2008

al fibrillation is becoming more common," said Albert. "It occurs in about 1 percent of people up to the age of 80 and it can cause significant symptoms in those who have it."

The link between alcohol consumption and atrial fibrillation seen in the study applies only to the group of women in that study, Albert noted. "It may not apply to African-Americans, who were not generally represented in the study or to women with heart disease, who were not represented in the study," she said.

The new study "confirms what we saw before, that for most people drinking reasonable amounts of alcohol per day, alcohol consumption is not related to the risk of atrial fibrillation," said Dr. Kenneth J. Mukamal, an associate professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School who was not involved with the research.

"It is noteworthy that the risk was concentrated in women drinking the very heaviest amounts of alcohol," Mukamal said.

He was a member of a group that studied the relationship in a large number of Danish adults, publishing the results in 2005. "We looked at both men and women and found an elevated incidence in men only at the highest risk category, five or more a day," Mukamal said. "We never saw a higher risk in women. What this study indicates is that it may be that if women drink enough, you find a higher risk."

More information

Atrial fibrillation and its effects are described by the U.S. National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute.



SOURCES: Christine M. Albert, professor, medicine, Harvard Medical School, Boston; Kenneth J. Mukamal, associate professor, medicine, Harvard Medical School, Boston; Dec. 3, 2008, Journal of the American Medical Association


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