Women who drink moderately may have lower heart disease risk

Women who drink moderately may have a lower risk of heart diseases (cardiovascular disease – CVD) and death from CVD in part because of how alcohol affects the body’s processing of fats and sugar in the blood.

The study is reported in Circulation: Journal of the American Heart Association.

In an analysis of data from the Women’s Health Study, researchers compared non-drinkers to moderate drinkers and found that an intake of one-half to one drink a day was associated with:

? 26 percent lower risk of CVD;
? 35 percent decrease in total mortality; and
? 51 percent decrease in CVD mortality.

CVD is a term that encompasses all diseases of the heart and blood vessels, including stroke and was defined in this study as a presence of heart attack, coronary bypass or angioplasty, stroke, or death from any of these conditions.

Moderate drinking was defined as 5 to 14.9 grams of alcohol a day – one-half to one drink. However, the risk of CVD among women consuming 15 to 30 grams of alcohol a day (more than one but no more than two drinks a day) was not significantly different from the risk of CVD among non-drinkers.

In the study, researchers analyzed alcohol consumption in the past 12 months of 26,399 women, average age 55 years.

Study highlights:

– Half to one drink a day was associated with a 26 percent lower risk of cardiovascular disease in women.

– An increase in high-density lipoproteins (HDL), the good cholesterol, and improved glucose metabolism were the most significant contributors to lowering risk.

– Moderate drinking resulted in a 35 percent decrease in total death rate and a 51 percent decrease in cardiovascular death rate, but wasn’t as easily explained by these factors.

Source: American Heart Association, USA

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