~ Limiting alcohol intake ~
In ancient times, people have attributed a variety of health “benefits” to moderate consumption of fermented beverages such as wine and beer. Even today, alcohol is still being used around the world as part of modern and traditional medical preparations.
But it is not secret that excessive alcohol consumption is linked to increased risk of morbidity and mortality as well as home-and-work-related and traffic accidents. Gaziano and Buring (1998) suggest that a higher risk of death at heavy drinking level is due to increased risk of cancer, liver diseases, cardiomyopathy and stroke.
Many studies have shown that light to moderate alcohol consumption (one to two dinks per day) may reduce risk of cardiovascular disease (CVD). But a sharp increase in CVD is associated with three or more drinks per day.
However, Hansel et al (2012) claim that the latest research findings of CVD protection by alcohol consumption may be based partly on misclassification of research data. Since there is no current data directly support a cause-and-effect relationship between alcohol intake and cardiovascular health, it seems premature to promote wine consumption as a basis for CVD protection.
Wine does seem to raise the good high density lipoprotein cholesterol. (HDL-C) level and it also favorably influences thrombotic (blood clotting) factors. Indeed, Hansen et al (2005) estimate that wine (not other alcoholic beverages) consumption may improve HDL-C by 11% to 16% and fasting fibrinogen by 8% to 15%.
Additionally, it may exert beneficial effects on the heart by decreasing platelet agreeability. But studies have shown adverse effects too, particularly at higher doses. Blood pressure can be raised leading to hypertension and alcohol damages the myocardium leading to arrhythmias (irregular heartbeat) and myocardiopathy (heart muscle disorders).
The so-called French Paradox has led many to believe that wine is the only protective alcoholic beverage for CVD. While organic red wine may contain resveratrol and possesses antioxidants or anticoagulant effects, ecological studies have shown that other alcoholic beverages also have similar “benefits”.
This means that the so-called benefits of consuming a small quantity of alcohol could come from beer, whisky, brandy or rice wine. In general, to derive maximum benefits, the safe amount to consume is less than one drink a day for Asian men. The American Heart Association limits alcohol intake to no more than two drinks per day for men and one for women.
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