Study finds frequent consumption of alcohol linked to lower risk of heart attack in men

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Men who drank moderate amounts of alcoholic beverages three or more times a week had a risk of myocardial infarction 30 to 35 percent lower than nondrinkers. The observational study, which tracked the drinking habits of nearly 40,000 men over a 12-year period, provides an important clue as to how alcohol helps guard against coronary heart disease, and for the first time, strongly suggests that routine consumption of alcoholic beverages is key. “Even relatively modest amounts of alcohol may be protective if consumed frequently,” said the study’s first author, Kenneth Mukamal, of Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center’s Division of General Medicine and Primary Care and assistant professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School. “Our results document that a pattern of regular consumption at least three to four days per week is associated with the lowest risk of heart attacks.” The findings appeared in the Jan. 9, 2003, issue of The New England Journal of Medicine. This research was funded by grants from the National Institutes of Health.