Small Amounts of Alcohol Shown to Increase Major Cardiovascular Events
Source: Journal Circulation (December 2021)
Lifestyle Medicine Update No (February 22, 2022)
Researchers know that you can learn a great deal about health risks when you study very large groups of people over a long period of time. And so it is with the UK Biobank study, which followed 350,000 people for a seven-year period. Publishing their results in the journal Circulation in December 2021, this arm of the study looked at the relationship between alcohol consumption and major cardiovascular events, like a heart attack and stroke. In the UK, government and medical authorities have set a limit of 14 units of alcohol per week, as the upper limit for the safe consumption of alcohol.
- 10 ml of pure alcohol is one unit
- One beer is about 3 units of alcohol
- One glass of wine (175 ml) is two units
- Fortified wines like sherry, ports – a small glass is one unit
- A typical serving size of hard liquor is about 1.5 units
It takes the body about one hour to metabolize one unit of alcohol, as a general rule.
So, what did this study show? The analysis found that participants that drank less than 14 units of alcohol per week — the safe limit recommended by the UK’s Chief Medical Officers — every 1.5 pints of beer was associated with a 23% increased risk of suffering a cardiovascular event. The lead author of the study, Dr. Rudolph Schutte, made the following comments when he was interviewed:” Among drinkers of beer, cider, and hard liquor in particular, even those consuming under 14 units (of alcohol) a week had an increased risk of ending up in hospital through a cardiovascular event involving the heart or the blood vessels.” “While we hear much about wine drinkers having a lower risk of coronary artery disease, our data shows their risk of other cardiovascular events is not reduced.” “Biases embedded in epidemiological evidence mask or underestimate the hazards associated with alcohol consumption. When these biases are accounted for, the adverse effects of even low-level alcohol consumption are revealed. The so-called J-shaped curve of the cardiovascular disease-alcohol consumption relationship suggesting health benefit from low to moderate alcohol consumption is the biggest myth since we were told smoking was good for us.”
When you add to this, the fact that alcohol is a known risk factor for eight of the most common cancers we face in modern society, making it the second most important cause of cancer, after cigarette smoking from environmental factors, you begin to appreciate further the health risks of even small to moderate amounts of alcohol consumed on a regular basis. If your goal is longevity and healthy life expectancy, I think you should pay careful attention to your alcohol consumption, and more ideally, abstain altogether. I have provided the reference to this study in the text below.
.1. Rudolph Schutte, Lee Smith, Goya Wannamethee. Alcohol – The myth of cardiovascular protection. Clinical Nutrition, 2022; 41 (2): 348. https://www.clinicalnutritionjournal.com/article/S0261-5614(21)00559-8/fulltext
2. Science Direct: Even light drinking can be harmful to health. https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2022/01/220128100730.htm
Eat Smart, Live Well, Look Great,
Dr. James Meschino
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Dr. James Meschino, DC, MS, ROHP, is an educator, author, and researcher having lectured to thousands of healthcare professionals across North America. He holds a Master’s Degree in Science with specialties in human nutrition and biology and is recognized as an expert in the field of nutrition, anti-aging, fitness, and wellness as well as the author of numerous books.