Alcohol may not be heart healthy even in moderate amounts

11 July 2014        

Alcoholic drinks

Consuming less alcohol – even if you’re a low or moderate drinker – could improve your heart health, according to new research part-funded by the British Heart Foundation.

The study challenges the findings of previous studies which had suggested that moderate amounts of alcohol might confer some benefits for cardiovascular health.

Researchers from around the world, looked at the cardiovascular risk of over 250,000 people, some of whom carried a gene variant that predisposed them to drink less alcohol. They found that people who carried the gene variant had a slightly lower risk of developing coronary heart disease, even if they drank alcohol at low to moderate levels.

Dr Shannon Amoils, our Senior Research Advisor, said: “Studies into alcohol consumption are fraught with difficulty in part because they rely on people giving accurate accounts of their drinking habits. 

Studies into alcohol consumption are fraught with difficulty

“Here the researchers used a clever study design to get round this problem by including people who had a gene that predisposes them to drink less.

“The results reinforce the view that small to moderate amounts of alcohol may not be healthy for the heart although the study would need to be repeated in a larger group of people for definitive results.

“Whilst the heart health effects of light to moderate alcohol consumption are still unclear, what is clear is that drinking more than the recommended limits of alcohol can have a harmful effect on the heart.”