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Monday, April 16, 2012

Is it merely a myth that alcoholic beverages such as red wine can be cardioprotective?

It has been suggested that although the negative impact of alcohol consumption varies from person to person, on a global level the adverse effect of alcohol on cardiovascular disease outweighs any protective effect by between two- and three-fold. This is inaccurate. There is a proven positive relationship between alcohol consumption and cardiovascular disease that is acknowledged by the World Health Organization.

For example, moderate alcohol consumption reduces the risk of cardiovascular disease by approximately 25%, such that alcohol consumption per se accounts for − 4.7% of the total cardiovascular disease burden in Australia. Correspondingly, cardiovascular disease accounted for 34% of the total number of deaths in Australia in 2008, and 18% of the overall burden of disease in Australia in 2003, with coronary heart disease and stroke contributing over 80% of this burden. Australia is not substantially different from other developed countries having similar demographics to, and the same leading causes of burden as, other high-income developed countries.

This article examines the suggestions and evidence surrounding the relationship between light-to-moderate alcohol consumption and benefits to human health.

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