At the turn of the century, we were already becoming aware of the positive effects of moderate alcohol use on heart disease. In the year 2000, a research article by the American Heart Association published in Circulation (read the full version here), showed that “several observational studies suggest that moderate alcohol intake reduces the risk of atherosclerosis, and the major mechanism appears to be the well known ability of alcohol to raise HDL-C concentrations.”
Fast forward to 2016 and findings are not much different. A study published this May in the BMJ, or British Medical Journal, showed a reduction in risk of coronary heart disease in post-menopasusal women with an increase in their alcohol intake.
But be cautious. Taking in too much alcohol can reverse this effect and actually cause an elevation in your bad cholesterol numbers, including LDL and triglyceride levels. Let’s not forget the obvious: elevation in liver enzymes and the risk of liver problems, such as hepatitis, and subsequently cirrhosis. Oh, and being drunk and its after-effects can also hurt.
I tell my patients this. If you drink responsibly and have no contraindication, one glass of wine a night should be perfectly fine. Please never drink and drive.