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New Relationship Between Alcohol and Heart Health?

A new study by the Boston University School of Public Health suggests a heretofore unsuspected relationship between alcohol and heart health. Researchers say moderate alcohol consumption could help lower the risk of heart disease in some cases…

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What they did

A team composed of researchers from Boston U and Tufts University studied more than 60 alcohol metabolites (breakdown products of the metabolism of alcohol in the body). They identified two groups of the substances. One raised the risk of cardiovascular diseases (CVDs), and the other helped reduce it.

An abstract of the study report recounts: “For the study, the researchers examined blood samples to measure the association between the cumulative average consumption of beer, wine, and liquor and 211 [total dietary] metabolites among 2,428 Framingham Heart Study Offspring Study participants, who are the children of participants in the long-running Boston University-based Framingham Heart Study, over 20 years. […] Among the participants, 636 developed CVD over the study period.”

What they found

Out of all the metabolites studied, 60 were determined to be related to alcohol consumption. And in the end, 7 were identified as contributing to the risk of developing CVD, while 3 specific metabolites were found to be linked with a lower risk of CVD.

The takeaway

“The study findings demonstrate that alcohol consumption may trigger changes of our metabolomic profiles, potentially yielding both beneficial and harmful outcomes.” Dr.Chunyu Liu, co-corresponding / co-senior author of the study report, says. “However, rather than definitively settling that debate, this study underscores the intricate effects of alcohol consumption on cardiovascular health and generates a useful hypothesis for future investigations.”

The bottom line?

“The findings provide a better understanding of the molecular pathway of long-term alcohol consumption,” The study report concludes. “[They also] highlight the need for and direction of further research on these metabolites to inform targeted prevention and treatment of alcohol-related CVD.”

My take

If nothing else… I can see how this research could help identify individuals who are more likely to suffer CVDs due to alcohol consumption. Given that sicence has already agreed that humans are hard-wired for craving of and addiction to alcohol, developing targeted intervention as suggested by Liu, seems a good bet for the future.

I can’t help wondering if the findings of of this study mesh, in a productive way, with other studies that show drinking red wine, specifically, can lower the risk of CVDs?


~ Maggie J.