Internal Medicine News reports some preliminary findings from Atherosclerosis Risk in Communities (ARIC), an ongoing NHLBI-sponsored prospective epidemiologic study:
"Former nondrinkers who initiated moderate alcohol consumption in middle age experienced a 38% reduction in cardiovascular events over 4 years, compared with continued nondrinkers, in the Atherosclerosis Risk in Communities study.
“The current American Heart Association guidelines state that moderate alcohol consumption at this level can be part of a healthy lifestyle, but caution that if you don't already drink, don't start. This research challenges that policy. A 38% lower chance of having an acute MI or stroke is extremely significant. That's a bigger effect than you'd expect with initiation of statin therapy,” said Dr. Dana E. King, professor of family medicine at the Medical University of South Carolina, Charleston."
The study findings were published in the American Journal of Medicine ("The Green Journal"):
Of 7697 participants who had no history of cardiovascular disease and were nondrinkers at baseline, within a 6-year follow-up period, 6.0% began moderate alcohol consumption (2 drinks per day or fewer for men, 1 drink per day or fewer for women) and 0.4% began heavier drinking.
After 4 years of follow-up, new moderate drinkers had a 38% lower chance of developing cardiovascular disease than did their persistently nondrinking counterparts. There was no difference in all-cause mortality between the new drinkers and persistent nondrinkers.
Taking Up Moderate Drinking Slashes CV Risk. Internal Medicine News, 04/2008.
Adopting Moderate Alcohol Consumption in Middle Age: Subsequent Cardiovascular Events. Dana E. King, Arch G. Mainous, Mark E. Geesey. Am. J. Med. 2008;121:201–6.
Alcohol literally kills: Gary Moore had 380mg/dL in his blood, Winehouse 416mg/dL when she died surrounded by 3 empty vodka bottles. Telegraph UK, 2012.
Image source: Wikipedia, public domain.