Light drinking may not be good for you after all

The debate over whether or not light drinking can have health benefits continues as a new study announces that drinking alcohol, even in small amounts, does not protect your heart.

There is some previous research that indicates that drinking can have a beneficial effect on a person’s health. In 2010, a study was published that claimed that moderate drinkers lived longer than both heavy drinkers and those who did not drink. Even heavy drinkers had a lower mortality rate than non-drinkers, the study reported. Possible reasons for this were the psychological benefits of social bonding and stress relief as well as the antioxidant resveratrol, which was thought to have a protective effect on the heart.

But researchers from the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine beg to differ. In a paper that was published in the British Journal of Medicine, they found that the risk of heart disease decreased as alcohol consumption decreased. This change was reported regardless of the level of consumption reported by participants. Even light drinking of 12 units per week may not protect your heart, as researchers reported a reduction for risk of heart disease for this group as well. 12 units would equate to two small glasses of wine.

Many experts in the field view these findings as nothing short of common sense. Very little evidence has been generated that adequately supports findings of health benefits in alcohol and the psychological benefits have not been tested or defined further than speculation.

This new study does not establish a causal link between drinking and cardiovascular health. However, it does provide a slightly more accurate picture of the correlation between the two factors. To do this, researchers controlled for underreported drinking habits by including people who possess a gene that makes it physically impossible to drink more than a small amount of alcohol without getting sick. This helped provide more accurate results during testing.