Beer, wine or spirits?

Moderate drinking reduces the risk of heart and circulatory disease Moderate beer drinking is good for the heart and blood vessels
How much should you drink for the maximum protective effect?
How is this protective effect explained?
More scientific research required
Discussion of the threshold value
Women are more sensitive to alcohol than men
Age and alcohol consumption
Beer, wine or spirits?
Good news for diabetics

The beneficial effects of moderate alcohol consumption are most notable in France where habitual drinkers of red wine have markedly fewer problems with heart and circulatory disease and have longer lives (the French paradox). When scientists found that it was mainly the alcohol in wine that was responsible for this protective effect, the relationship between other alcoholic drinks and heart and blood vessels came under examination. In the meantime studies have confirmed that moderate drinking of white wine, beer and spirits can favourably change the survival curve and reduce the risk of heart and circulatory diseases.

Some research groups have compared the effects of different alcoholic drinks with one another and have come to the conclusion that the beneficial effects on health were most pronounced with beer and wine consumption, and less so with spirits. Moderate drinkers of beer and wine have fewer problems with high blood pressure and are less often confronted with clogging of the coronary arteries and myocardial infarction than regular drinkers of spirits (1). A Belgian study (2). also showed that wine and beer have a comparable effect on heart and circulatory disease, but adds that the differences are difficult to investigate because different drinking habits are also coupled with different eating habits. For example, beer drinkers smoke more than wine drinkers and the more that is drunk the greater the fat consumption. According to a German research group, light to moderate beer drinking is better for the heart and blood vessels than drinking wine to the same extent (3)


(1)Alcoholic Beverage Preferance and Risks of Alcohol-Related Medical Consequences: a preliminary report from the National Longitudinal Alcohol Epidemiologic Survey; S.P. Chou et al. Alcohol Clinical & Experimental Research 1998;vol.22,nr.7.
(2)Wine and non-wine alcohol: differential effect on all-cause and cause-specific mortality; S. Sasaki, H. Kesteloot, Nutr. Metab. Cardiovasc. Dis. 1994;4:177-182.
(3)The Relation of alcohol intake to coronary heart disease and all-cause mortality in a beer-drinking population; U. Keil et al., Epidemiology 1997;8:150-156.


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