During the last couple of years spent working as a bartender I have come to respect and enjoy spirits. Over the course of my experience in the restaurant industry I have had the opportunity to sample and learn a lot about wine, local microbreweries and bourbon distilleries.
Typically, at the end of the day I will crack open a newly discovered craft beer or sample a skosh of bourbon or wine as I cook dinner for my family. Some of it usually makes its way into dinner, even. It is a nice treat to look forward to, and I truly appreciate learning and testing my palate.
Adult beverages, however, are the culprit of many different diseases and can be extremely dangerous if enjoyed irresponsibly. But, what if there were actually some benefits of booze? A study published in the European Heart Journal suggests that drinking moderate amounts of alcohol is associated with lower risk of developing heart failure compared to those who do not drink at all.
Heart failure is a condition where the heart cannot pump blood efficiently, usually due to damaged heart muscle from, let’s say, a heart attack. Other things contribute to heart failure as well, such as high blood pressure, heart valve problems, and heart disease. Heart disease is the number one killer of women in the United States, accounting for 1 in 3 deaths, or approximately one woman every minute, which makes the disease more deadly than all types of cancer.
According to the study, Dr. Scott Solomon (Professor of Medicine at Harvard Medical School, Senior Physician at Brigham and Women's Hospital, Boston), Dr. Alexandra Gonçalves (research fellow at Brigham and Women's Hospital), and colleagues analyzed 25 years of data collected from 14,629 people aged between 45-64 years. Their definition of a drink was 14 g of alcohol, equivalent to one small glass of wine, a half a pint of beer, or less than one shot of liquor.
After controlling for factors that could affect results (i.e. age, diabetes, heart attacks, education, smoking, etc.) researchers found that men and women who consumed up to drinks per week had a reduced risk of developing heart failure by 20% and 16%, respectively, compared to abstainers. Former drinkers had the highest risk for developing the condition, which could be related to why they stopped drinking in the first place.
While this study shows an association between drinking moderate amounts of alcohol and lower risk for heart failure, it does not necessarily mean that alcohol consumption causes the reduced risk. However, it is convenient information that justifies my indulgence, at least until the next research study is published!
Visit the American Heart Association Go Red for Women page for more information about heart disease in women.