A study by Monash University researchers in Australia has found that moderate drinking of alcohol is associated with a reduced risk of cardiovascular disease and a lowering of death from all causes — when compared to zero alcohol consumption.
More than 18,000 people over the age of 70 in the United States and Australia took part in the research. It is the first study to investigate the heart health implications of drinking alcohol.
It found that the consumption of modest amounts of alcohol was associated with a reduced risk of cardiovascular disease. Robyn Woods is an associate professor in the School of Public Health and Preventive Medicine at Monash University.
“Taking or consuming five to ten alcoholic beverages a week, which is quite modest gave better outcomes than those who were completely teetotal. It seemed to be associated with a reduced cardiovascular disease risk and also of all-cause mortality,” Woods said.
Researchers have said their findings should be interpreted with caution because participants in the study were healthy with no previous heart or other severe diseases.They could also have been more physically and socially active than the wider ageing population.
Exactly how modest alcohol consumption can reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease and other causes of death is unknown.
Associate professor Woods says more research is needed.
“There is some evidence that modest alcohol intake has vascular properties that could be beneficial. But there is also the potential for social benefits. So, you know, consuming alcohol with friends, family, etcetera may well have a benefit,” Woods said.
The Monash University, Melbourne, research is published in the European Journal of Preventive Cardiology.
Guidelines from the Australian Drug and Alcohol Foundation, a leading public health organization, advise that both men and women should consumer no more than 10 standard drinks per week. A standard drink in Australia contains 10 grams of alcohol.