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Too Much Alcohol Harms the Heart, Even if Just Occasional

Posted Mar 11 2010 3:22am

Drinking alcohol in moderation (not more than one drink per day for women, not more than two drinks per day for men) has previously been shown to be heart healthy.  Alcohol can help raise HDL (good cholesterol, prevent blood clotting and has anti-inflammatory effects on blood vessels).  Heavy frequent alcohol consumption can raise blood pressure, promote blood clots and lead to irregular heart rhythms.

A new study published in the February 2010 issue of the American Journal of Epidemiology reports that occasional binge drinking can actually reverse the beneficial effects of moderate alcohol intake.  The researchers pooled data from 14 different studies that looked at moderate drinkers, they found that people who drank heavily every so often were 45% more likely to develop heart disease than people who drank in moderation but never binged.  (People who did not drink alcohol at all were not involved in this study.)  Occasional heavy or binge drinking was defined as five or more drinks in one day at least twelve times a year.

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