Moderate Drinkers Have Less Heart Risk — But Maybe Not Because of Drinking

Like many other studies, new research from France concludes that moderate alcohol drinkers have a lower risk of heart disease than abstainers.

However, researchers said that moderate drinkers also tend to have a higher social status, get more exercise, had better levels of “good” cholesterol, are less depressed and are generally healthier — factors that may have more to do with their coronary health than how much they drink, HealthDay News reported May 19.

Researcher Boris Hansel said that “a causal relationship between cardiovascular risk and moderate drinking is not at all established” by the study.

“The relationship between moderate drinking and lower cardiovascular risk is due to confounding factors,” he stated. “That is because moderate drinking is in large part a matter of higher social status. Social status, a lower level of depression and a higher level of physical activity probably explains the relationship between alcohol and lower cardiovascular risk.”

U.S. researchers, however, said that the French study does not negate previous findings that moderate drinking has cardiovascular benefits even when controlling for other factors. “There is increasing evidence that a lot of the health benefits that have been attributed to alcohol consumption are due to healthy habits that also include moderate alcohol consumption,” said Carla A. Green of the Kaiser Permanente Center for Health Research.

In fact, the study by Hansel and colleagues itself concludes: “Our results cannot eliminate the cardioprotective effects of alcohol.”

The findings were published online in the European Journal of Clinical Nutrition.

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