LONDON — A new study finds that moderate consumption of alcohol is linked with a lower risk of many types of heart disease.
Because there was skepticism centered around the claim that moderate drinking is associated with a lower risk of heart complications (compared to heavy drinking or abstinence), researchers from at the University of Cambridge and University College London set out to find a connection between alcohol consumption and 12 different kinds of cardiovascular disease.
To do this, they analyzed electronic health records for nearly 2 million UK adults — split between drinkers and nondrinkers — who were found free of heart disease before participating in the study.
The results pointed to moderate drinking being associated with a lower risk of heart failure, angina and ischaemic stroke after taking into account several influential factors, according to a news release. The team believes the study is the first to examine the correlation on a scale this large.
However, the authors explained that since this was an observational study, no firm conclusions can be drawn in terms of cause of effect and that the study’s limitations could have introduced bias.
Researchers from Harvard Medical School and the Johns Hopkins School of Public Health wrote an editorial in response to the study, noting that the research may lead to new findings that can help guide awareness for both doctors and the general public.
“This study does not offer a materially new view of the associations between alcohol consumed within recommended limits and risk of cardiovascular disease,” they wrote. “However, [it] sets the stage for ever large and more sophisticated studies that will attempt to harness the flood of big data into a stream of useful, reliable, and unbiased findings that can inform public health, clinical care, and the direction of future research.”
The study was published in the British Medical Journal.