Drinking a moderate amount of alcohol is connected to lower risks of cardiovascular disease and morality compared to drinking no alcohol, a new study has revealed.

A team of academics assessed more than 18,000 older adults across the US and Australia from a previous ASPREE study by the Monash University. The study is the first to examine the link between cardiovascular disease and morality, and alcohol consumption.

Participants had an average age of 74 and were healthy at the start of the study with no previous cardiovascular complications, diagnosed dementia or independence-limiting physical disabilities.

More than 55 per cent of participants were female and the average BMI was 28.1 kg/m2.

Researchers gathered the data surrounding alcohol intake (how many days per week they drank and how much per day) from a self-reported questionnaire filled out by participants.

They omitted people from the study who had previously drunk alcohol and then stopped due to their health.

Researchers evaluated alcohol intake as grams per week. The categories consisted of zero, one to 50, 51 to 100, 101 to 150, and over 150.

Results showed that:

  • 6 per cent drank no alcohol
  • 3 per cent drank one to 50g per week
  • 7 per cent drank 51g to 100g per week
  • 6 per cent drank 100g to 150g per week
  • 9 per cent drank more than 150g per week

Participants were monitored for more than four years on average and results show that participants who consumed 51g to 100g, 101g to 150g, and more than 150g per week were less likely to develop cardiovascular disease compared those who never drank alcohol.

Drinking 51g to 100g per week of alcohol was associated to a lower risk of all-round mortality.

The lead author of the study, Dr Johannes Neumann, from School of Public Health and Preventive Medicine, noted that the results should be interpreted carefully as participants were all healthy prior to the study, with no previous cardiovascular diseases, and were possibly more active than the current aging population.

It is also important to consider that excessive drinking of alcohol is a major cause of disease and high risk of mortality.

Overall, the study concluded that moderate drinking of alcohol caused no cardiovascular disease or mortality issues amongst the studied group. Dr Neumann believes that more research is needed into the area to better understand and comprehend the effects of alcohol on health and probable benefits of social drinking and interacting.

The study was published in the European Journal of Preventive Cardiology.

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