A study of nearly 2 mil UK adults published last week in the British Medical Journal found that non-drinkers had significantly higher risks than moderate drinkers, 23-33% higher in fact, for coronary heart disease and cardiovascular disease. At the same time, non-drinkers had higher rates of all-cause mortality than moderate drinkers and occasional drinkers. Moderate drinkers did not have lower risks for every one of the 12 specific conditions investigated, the authors point out. But they did for most and for the most common ones. Heavier drinkers had higher risks for many of the specific cardiovascular diseases than non-drinkers, though still lower risks for myocardial infarction and angina.
The conclusion of this “most comprehensive study to date of the relation between alcohol consumption and risk of cardiovascular disease,” as the authors called it, is basically the same as many previous studies covered over the years in Alcohol Issues INSIGHTS: light/moderate drinkers have lower risk for several significant cardiovascular diseases than abstainers. Indeed, in an editorial comment in the same issue of the British Medical Journal, Harvard’s Kenneth Mukamal points out that the new study supports work from “over four decades ago,” by Dr. Arthur Klatsky in California and “does not offer a materially new view” of the links between moderate drinking and cardiovascular health. Rather, like the “old” view, the new study reports “lower rates of essentially every meaningful cardiovascular outcome except hemorrhagic stroke among moderate drinkers than among abstainers. Four decades of epidemiological studies have largely found the same.”