Medical researchers have reported that even healthy men may benefit from a drink or two daily to help lower the risk of heart attack.
“Our results suggest that moderate drinking could be viewed as a complement, rather than an alternative,” to lifestyle interventions such as regular physical activity, weight loss and quitting smoking, said the study from Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in Boston.
The report said that previous studies have linked moderate drinking to a lower heart attack risk, compared to the risk run by those who do not drink at all.
The apparent protective effect may be that alcohol appears to raise the level of so-called “good” cholesterol in the bloodstream.
But doctors do not generally recommend people drink, it said, because of the risks associated with heavy drinking.
The group of men studied were nonsmokers, not overweight, got at least 30 minutes of exercise daily and had diets heavy on fruits, vegetables, fish and polyunsaturated fats but low in trans-fats and red meat.
Between 1986 and 2002, 106 of the men had heart attacks, including eight out of 1,282 who downed about two drinks daily, compared to 28 of another 1,889 who did not drink at all.
There were nine heart attacks in a group of 714 men who drank more than two drinks daily, and 34 in a group of 2,252 who drank less than two a day.
An analysis found that the lowest risk was in the two-drink group, the authors said, and the highest risk among the nondrinkers.
“Given our findings, future guidelines for moderate drinking need not consider healthy lifestyle behavior as mutually exclusive and should instead focus on the strengths and limitations of the evidence about moderate alcohol intake,” the study concluded.