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Moderate Drinking Guards the Heart
Date:11/19/2009

But protective effect can wear off at higher levels in men, study finds

THURSDAY, Nov. 19 (HealthDay News) -- A Spanish study has found that long-term moderate drinking decreased the risk of heart disease by up to one-third in men and to a lesser degree in women.

The type of alcohol -- beer, wine or spirits -- made no difference, the researchers reported in the Nov. 19 online issue of Heart. The Spanish analysis used 10-year data on 15,500 men and nearly 26,000 women who were participants in the European Prospective Investigation into Cancer study.

But for men, there was a point at which the coronary benefits of alcohol declined, and risk began to rise again.

The rate of coronary heart disease for non-drinking women in the study was 56 per 100,000. For women listed as low drinkers, averaging less than 5 grams a day, it was 42. For women who were moderate drinkers (5 to 30 grams a day), it was 36; for high drinkers (30 to 90 grams a day) it was 12; and for heavy drinkers (more than 90 grams a day) it was 12.

The rates for men were 398 per 100,000 for those who never drank, 318 for low drinkers, 255 for moderate drinkers, 278 for high drinkers and 334 for heavy drinkers, the researchers reported.

The results for women were not statistically significant, perhaps because the numbers in many categories were too small, said the report from the Public Health Department of Gipuzkoa, Basque Government, in San Sebastian.

The finding comes as no surprise, said Eric B. Rimm, an associate professor of epidemiology and nutrition at the Harvard School of Public Health, who has done research on alcohol and heart disease.

"This is one of a long line of such studies, probably 60 or 70 done in different populations around the world," Rimm said. "But it is comforting, showing that even if you live in a Mediterranean country and eat the different diet there, moderate drinking puts you at a
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