Benefits Coronary Heart Disease

A large number of investigators have studied the relation between alcohol intake and coronary heart disease. Studies indicate that the descending leg of the curve is mainly attributable to death from coronary heart disease, as mentioned previously. The lowest risk seems to be among subjects reporting an

Alcohol consumption, drinks/day

Figure 1 Relative risk of death from all causes according to total alcohol intake. Relative risk is set at 1.00 among nondrinkers (0 drinks/week). (Reproduced with permission from Boffetta P and Garfinkel L (1990) Alcohol drinking and mortality among men enrolled in an American Cancer Society prospective study. Epidemiology 1: 342-348.)

Alcohol consumption, drinks/day

Figure 1 Relative risk of death from all causes according to total alcohol intake. Relative risk is set at 1.00 among nondrinkers (0 drinks/week). (Reproduced with permission from Boffetta P and Garfinkel L (1990) Alcohol drinking and mortality among men enrolled in an American Cancer Society prospective study. Epidemiology 1: 342-348.)

average intake of one to four drinks daily. Several studies have found plausible mechanisms for the apparent cardioprotective effect of a light to moderate intake of alcohol. Subjects with a high alcohol intake have a higher level of high-density lipopro-tein, which has been found to be a mediator of the effect of alcohol on coronary heart disease. Thus, 40-60% of the effect of alcohol on coronary heart disease is likely to be attributable to the effect on high-density lipoprotein. Furthermore, drinkers have a lower low-density lipoprotein. Also, alcohol has a beneficial effect on platelet aggregation, and thrombin level in blood is higher among drinkers than among nondrinkers. Ultimately, a few small-scale intervention studies have indicated that alcohol has a beneficial effect on fibronolytic factors.

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