A study out of the UK finds that drinking moderate amounts of alcohol could be good for many heart conditions. However, one study in Japan linked even just a little bit of alcohol to increased cancer risk. So, the jury is still out on how beneficial or detrimental alcohol can be on your overall health.
Drinking Alcohol In Moderation Could Lower Risk For Heart Conditions
Nearly two million people participated in this study where researchers evaluated drinking habits. They found that compared to non-drinkers, those who drank in moderation had a lower risk for eight heart conditions including heart attacks, stroke, sudden heart-related deaths, and chest pain. However, this study found that moderate drinking may not protect against four other heart conditions including milder strokes and bleeding in the brain.
Non-drinkers were found to have between 12% – 56% increased risk for the eight heart conditions and a 33% higher risk of unstable angina. This is when the heart doesn’t receive enough blood flow. Possibly most surprising, however, was that non-drinkers had a 56% higher risk of suddenly dying from heart disease.
Should I Start Drinking?
The answer to this question is no. Though this study shows the correlation between alcohol and heart disease, The Global Burden of Diseases says that no amount of alcohol is safe to drink. Drinking alcohol carries risks such as liver disease, cancer, mental health problems, high blood pressure, and more. This study also showed heavy drinking to be linked to an increased risk for stroke, heart failure, and peripheral arterial disease. So, if you don’t drink now, you shouldn’t start. If you do choose to drink alcohol, just remember – balance is key. You can also take steps to lower your risk for heart disease such as:
- Quit Smoking – tobacco use is a significant risk factor for developing heart disease. So, consider quitting if you smoke, and if you don’t, never start.
- Move Your Body – dance, walk, skip, or hit the gym to get at least 30 minutes of exercise and movement each day.
- Eat Healthy – enjoying fresh fruits, vegetables, and whole-grains can help protect your heart. Also, make sure to avoid processed foods as much as possible.
- Drink In Moderation – stick to one drink per day for women or two drinks per day for men. This roughly correlates to:
- Beer – 12 ounces
- Wine – 5 ounces
- 80-Proof Distilled Spirits or Liquor – 1.5 ounces