Light to Moderate Drinking and Cardiovascular Health

A recent study in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology confirms that light to moderate drinking may have some benefits, while heavy drinking still increases the risk of mortality, from all causes.1 Studies have suggested that light to moderate drinking can be beneficial to cardiovascular health, especially red wine, which is included in the Mediterranean diet, and championed for its content of polyphenols, especially resveratrol. This study mimics that support and concludes that light to moderate drinking can reduce the risk of cardiovascular related deaths.

Robust Alcohol Study

The study was robust, looking at 333,247 individuals between 1997 and 2009. Alcohol consumption was classified into the 6 separate categories: lifetime abstainers, lifetime infrequent drinkers, former drinkers and current light drinkers, moderate drinkers, and heavy drinkers. Light drinkers were those consuming less than 3 drinks per week (both men and women), moderate drinkers were those consuming between 3 and 14 drinks for men, and 3 and 7 drinks for women, heavy drinking consisted of drinking more than the allotted amount for moderate drinking classification.

Moderate Drinking Reflected Decrease in All-Cause Mortality & Cardiovascular Diseases

Of the 333,247 participants, 34,754 died during the study period. 8,947 deaths were due to cardiovascular diseases, and 8,427 were due to cancer. When deaths were correlated with alcohol consumption, male heavy drinking correlated with a 25% increase in all cause mortality, and a 67% increase in dying of cancer. This finding was not seen in women heavy drinkers. Interestingly, heavy drinking was not found to specifically increase the risk of cardiovascular deaths. Moderate drinking on the other hand, had a decrease in all-cause mortality of 13% in men and 25% in women. Moderate drinking also showed a lowered risk for deaths involving cardiovascular diseases by 21% in men and 34% in women. These trends were similarly noted in light drinkers.

Source

  1. Xi B, Sreenivas P, Zhao M, et al. Relationship of Alcohol Consumption to All-Cause, Cardiovascular, and Cancer-Related Mortality in U.S. Adults. J Amer Col Card. 70; 8, Aug. 2017
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Node Smith, associate editor for NDNR, is a fifth year naturopathic medical student at NUNM, where he has been instrumental in maintaining a firm connection to the philosophy and heritage of naturopathic medicine among the next generation of docs. He helped found the first multi-generational experiential retreat, which brings elders, alumni, and students together for a weekend camp-out where naturopathic medicine and medical philosophy are experienced in nature. Three years ago he helped found the non-profit, Association for Naturopathic ReVitalization (ANR), for which he serves as the board chairman. ANR has a mission to inspire health practitioners to embody the naturopathic principles through experiential education. Node also has a firm belief that the next era of naturopathic medicine will see a resurgence of in-patient facilities which use fasting, earthing, hydrotherapy and homeopathy to bring people back from chronic diseases of modern living; he is involved in numerous conversations and projects to bring about this vision.

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