Bad News About Your Red Wine Obsession

You may have heard by now that drinking alcohol is good for your heart. A number of recent studies seemed to confirm this happy truth. Unfortunately, newer evidence suggests that alcohol does not benefit the heart after all, which is exactly what you don't want to hear just hours before a summer weekend begins. Sigh.

The Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania coordinated with researchers all over the world in analyzing a huge set of data — from 56 epidemiological studies, including 260,000 participants of European descent. In the end, the researchers collectively found that reduced drinking correlates with less heart disease, lower blood pressure, and lower body mass index. This was true even when comparing moderate drinkers to light drinkers, and light drinkers to abstainers: less alcohol correlates with better heart health.

Previous evidence told us that, in an appropriate sample set, alcohol abstainers were more likely to die than both moderate and heavy drinkers. This effect may be explained by the fact that alcohol is an anxiolytic that helps you to relax, and relaxation is healthy. Or perhaps it has to do with the fact that drinking is positively correlated with general socializing, and socializing is healthy.

But when it comes to your heart's health in particular, alcohol doesn't seem to do you any favors. So in addition to laying off the binge drinking, you have plenty of reasons to reduce your alcohol consumption in general, and especially if heart problems run in your family. Sigh.

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