Well-Known Molecule May be Behind Alcohol’s Benefits to Heart Health
Posted Nov 18 2010 7:06pm
Many studies support the assertion that moderate drinking is beneficial when it comes to cardiovascular health, and for the first time scientists have discovered that a well-known molecule, called Notch, may be behind alcohol’s protective effects. Down the road, this finding could help scientists create a new treatment for heart disease that mimics the beneficial influence of modest alcohol consumption.
“Any understanding of a socially acceptable, modifiable activity that many people engage in, like drinking, is useful as we continue to search for new ways to improve health,” said Eileen M. Redmond, Ph.D., lead study author and associate professor in the Department of Surgery, Basic and Translational Research Division, at the University of Rochester Medical Center. “If we can figure out at the basic science level how alcohol is beneficial it wouldn’t translate to doctors prescribing people to drink, but hopefully will lead to the development of a new therapy for the millions of people with coronary heart disease.”
Population studies looking at patterns of health and illness and associated factors have shown that heart disease and cardiac-related death is 20 to 40 percent lower in light to moderate drinkers, compared to people who don’t drink. Redmond notes that even if the reduction is only 20 percent, that still translates to a considerable benefit that warrants further investigation to better understand how alcohol works its protective magic.