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Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Effects of alcohol on cardiovascular disease



Originally thought to be cardioprotective, the pendulum is now swinging against alcohol, with more deaths due to drinking than lives saved

Evidence for an increased risk of cardiovascular disease in heavy drinkers goes back to the mid-1970s. Later studies focused on whether moderate consumption was cardioprotective. In 1984 Michael Marmot summarized the evidence as showing moderate drinkers to be at lower risk, but said this could be due to the ‘sick quitter’ effect.1 JL Richard coined the term ‘French paradox’ in 1987 when he proposed that French wine drinking habits might explain their low coronary mortality rate despite a diet rich in saturated fat.2

Subsequent epidemiological studies support the observation that as far as cardiovascular disease is concerned, and ischaemic heart disease in particular, non-drinkers at baseline have higher mortality and event rates than those who drink moderate amounts. 
But there is controversy over whether alcohol has a causal protective effect. ‘Many studies don't differentiate between lifelong abstainers and those who have quit’, says epidemiologist Prof. David Leon (London, UK). ‘Quitting is often associated with health problems, [the argument being] that those people stopped drinking because of their health, not that their health is poor because they don't drink’. > > >   Read More