Daily drinking cuts heart disease risk for men, not women

An alcoholic drink a day may help men avoid heart disease, while women get the benefit as long as they consume some alcohol, according to a study of 53,400 Danes.

The study, which appears in this week's British Medical Journal, found frequency of consumption was the important issue for men. Women who drank did better than those who didn't, and frequency didn't seem to matter, according to researchers led by Janne Tolstrup at the National Institute of Public Health in Copenhagen.

The study involved 28,400 women and 25,000 men between 50 and 65 years old, and the results may not be applicable to other age groups, the scientists said. Other studies have linked heavy drinking to cancers of the mouth, pharynx and other organs, and some researchers are concerned that people will overindulge, reports Bloomberg.

According to FOX News, study co-leader Janne Tolstrup, PhD, is a human biologist in the Center for Alcohol Research at Denmark's National Institute for Public Health, Copenhagen.

"For men who drink alcohol, the most healthy way they can do that is to drink frequently, but only in small amounts," Tolstrup tells WebMD. "To get the beneficial effect, you don't have to drink very much."

It's a different story for women.

"What we see with women is a beneficial effect on heart disease, but this seems associated more with amount than with frequency," Tolstrup says. "This is a different message than for men, because the women drinking the most have the lowest risk of heart disease. It seems to be independent of how often they drink." And Britton worries that people who drink every day may become alcohol-dependent without realizing it.

"I think you can drink every day and be moderate. A glass or two of your favorite drink doesn't sound like risky behavior," she says. "But having a few days free from alcohol seems healthy, just to make sure you are not addicted -- even in a mild way. To make sure you're not using alcohol as a crutch would certainly be a sensible thing to do."

Researchers found that the risks of coronary heart disease were lowest for the males who drank most frequently. Men who drank on one day a week had a 7 per cent reduced risk, whereas men who drank daily had a 41 per cent reduced risk.

Though women who drank alcohol at least once a week had a lower risk of heart disease than those who drank less frequently, the study indicated that the risks were similar whether they drank daily (36 per cent reduced risk) or weekly (35 per cent).

The researchers, led by Morten Gronbaek, of the Centre forAlcohol Research at the National Institute for Public Health in Copenhagen, said the findings suggested that, for men, the quantities drunk were less important as long as they drank every day.

For women, however, it appeared that the amount of alcohol consumed was more important than the frequency of drinking, informs The Australian.

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