Chances are you've heard that drinking wine in moderation can promote heart health. (And except for the moderation thing, this is not a hard sell.) But a recent study conducted by researchers at University of Gothenburg in Sweden suggests the benefits of booze may not apply to all.
In the study, researchers assessed the alcohol intake of 618 people with a history of coronary heart disease who were involved in a 3,614-person Swedish study designed to identify chronic diseases' risk factors. The experts also conducted blood tests to see which participants had a particular genotype (aka "cholesteryl ester transfer protein polymorphism," JFYI). For unknown reasons, this genotype appears to affect how the body responds to alcohol, says lead study author Dr. Dag Thelle, professor of cardiovascular epidemiology at University of Gothenburg.
While people who reported moderate drinking habits (i.e., no more than nine drinks per week) appeared to have a lower risk of heart disease than people who abstained or drank a ton, people who had the special genes and drank moderately had the lowest risk of heart disease overall — even after researchers adjusted the results to eliminate confounding variables like blood cholesterol levels, which can be affected by alcohol and are associated with a lower risk of heart disease. In other words: the genetically blessed drinkers were much less likely to get heart disease than any of the other people in the 3,000-plus person study.
The thing is, only about 15 percent of people are born with these special genotypes, and there's no easy way to find out whether you have the genes that seem to make alcohol even more ~*mAgIcAl~*.
The bottom line: Experts aren't convinced that moderate drinking will protect everyone's heart health. Until more research is done, you can still toast to your health in moderation, Dr. Thelle says. Just cap your alcohol intake at nine drinks per week to max out on the benefits of a good buzz without jeopardizing your health.
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