Drinkers who have rallied round assorted research in recent years were told yesterday that drinking two glasses of wine a day may not be good medicine after all.
One commonly quoted study has suggested that having up to three drinks a day - each containing about 10g of &to=http://english.pravda.ru/society/2002/08/12/34304.html' target=_blank>alcohol - can reduce heart attack risk by a quarter.
But Dr Rod Jackson and three colleagues from Auckland University reported in Britain's The Lancet medical journal, that the apparent protective effect of alcohol may be largely due to confused research. The researchers said it might be premature to celebrate the numerous studies which have shown that light to moderate alcohol consumption protects the heart.
Any benefit from light to moderate drinking is probably small and unlikely to outweigh the harm to health caused by alcohol, they said. If anything, the evidence of heart protection was more convincing for heavy drinkers: post mortem studies showed that dead alcoholics had relatively "clean" arteries, reports Stuff.co.nz.
According to BBC News, however, in this instance the other health risks definitely outweigh the benefits. Lead researcher Dr Rod Jackson, from the University of Auckland, and his team said: "Any coronary protection from light to moderate drinking will be very small and unlikely to outweigh the harms.
"While moderate to heavy drinking is probably coronary-protective, any benefit will be overwhelmed by the known harms.
"If so, the public health message is clear. Do not assume there is a window in which the health benefits of alcohol are greater than the harms - there is probably no free lunch."