Drink Early, Drink Often

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The latest study to examine the connection between alcohol consumption and reduced heart disease risk indicates that drinking frequently may be the key. The study, reported in this week's New England Journal of Medicine, followed 38,000 men for 12 years. Men who drank three or more days a week were one-third less likely to have a heart attack than men who drank less than once a week. The risk reduction for those who drank once or twice a week was 16 percent. It did not matter what kind of alcoholic beverage the men drank, or whether it was consumed with meals.

Surprisingly, the amount consumed on each occasion did not make much difference either. Once the glass is half empty, it seems, you're pretty much drinking for fun. The neoprohibitionists who worry that talking about the health benefits of drinking is bound to encourage excess ought to be doing everything they can to publicize this study. Don't hold your breath.

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  1. I’m still not convinced alcohol consumption is the reason for reduced heart attacks. I think it’s more likely that those who drink aren’t stressing themselves out worrying about everthing that goes into their bodies.

    Or/in addition, anyone who doesn’t drink (or in my case, toke) are more likely to have a heart attack because they have no life and their bodies want to be put out of their misery.

    Man, I should be conducting these studies.

  2. Josh, there’s probably some truth to your theory. I do think there may be some direct medical benefits but the mental attitude thing is probably something that can’t be discounted. We do know, for example, that high cholesterol can be associated with high stress – soldiers in Vietnam who were in their early twenties and very physically active had high cholesterol, according to one study I’ve heard of.

    Another study that came out a few years ago that I thought was interesting purported to show that coffee drinkers were considerably less likely to commit suicide. They said tea also had an effect, but less prominently. Based on my own personal experience as a caffeine junkie, I think people who drink coffee are probably trying to stay awake and alert because they have something to stay awake for, and by implication are probably more likely to ‘have something to live for’ than those who could care less. Just a thought.

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