TORONTO, Jan. 30, 2012 /CNW/ - A meta-analysis done by the Centre for
Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH) into the relationship between alcohol consumption and heart disease provides new insight into the long-held belief that
drinking a glass of red wine a day can help protect against heart
"It's complicated," says Dr. Juergen Rehm, director of social and epidemiological research at CAMH. Dr. Rehm's
paper, co-authored by Michael Roerecke, was recently published in the
journal Addiction. "While a cardioprotective association between alcohol use and
ischaemic heart disease exists, it cannot be assumed for all drinkers,
even at low levels of intake," says Dr. Rehm.
Ischaemic heart disease is a common cause of illness and death in the
Western world. Symptoms are angina, heart pain, and heart failure.
Based on 44 studies, the analyses used 38,627 ischaemic heart disease
events (including deaths) among 957,684 people.
"We see substantial variation across studies, in particular for an
average consumption of one to two drinks a day," says Dr. Rehm. The
protective association may vary by gender, drinking patterns, and the
specific health effects of interest. Differential risk curves were
found by sex, with higher risk for morbidity and mortality in women.
Moreover, for any particular individual, the relationship between
alcohol consumption and ischemic heart disease should not be isolated
from other disease outcomes. Even at low levels, alcohol intake can
have a detrimental effect on many other disease outcomes, including on
"Even one drink a day increases risk of breast cancer, for example,"
says Dr. Rehm. "However, with as little as one drink a day, the net
effect on mortality is still beneficial. After this, the net risk
increases with every drink."
"If someone binge drinks even once a month, any health benefits from
light to moderate drinking disappear." Binge drinking is defined more
than four drinks on one occasion for women, and more than five for men.
Given the complex, potentially beneficial or detrimental effects of
alcohol on ischaemic heart disease in addition to the detrimental
effects on other disease categories, any advice by physicians on
individual drinking has to take the individual risk constellation (such
as familial predisposition for certain diseases and behavior with
respect to other risk factors) into consideration.
"More evidence on the overall benefit-risk ratio of average alcohol
consumption in relation to ischaemic heart disease and other diseases
is needed in order to inform the general public or physicians about
safe or low-risk drinking levels," the study concludes. "Findings from
this study support current low-risk drinking guidelines, if these recognize lower drinking limits for women."
The Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH) is Canada's largest
mental health and addiction teaching hospital, as well as one of the
world's leading research centres in the area of addiction and mental
health. CAMH combines clinical care, research, education, policy
development and health promotion to help transform the lives of people
affected by mental health and addiction issues.
CAMH is fully affiliated with the University of Toronto, and is a Pan
American Health Organization/World Health Organization Collaborating
SOURCE Centre for Addiction and Mental Health
For further information:
For media interviews please contact Michael Torres, Media Relations, CAMH: 416-595-6015; firstname.lastname@example.org