Is Beer Bad?

There are countless reports on the positive effects of red wine on heart health, but a recent study by the Cardiovascular Research Center in Barcelona, Spain shows that men who have suffered a heart attack may benefit healthwise from regularly enjoying a couple of beers. The study investigated whether drinking beer, either alcoholic or non-alcoholic, provided protection in pigs that had suffered a heart attack.

In the study, the pigs were divided into tests groups. One group was fed on a high-cholesterol diet, a second group received a high-cholesterol diet and a low dose beer, a third group had the same diet with a moderate dose beer and the fourth group was given a high-cholesterol diet and alcohol-free beer. There was also a control group of animals. After inducing a heart attack, the animals were assessed and myocardial tissue was taken for molecular analysis and histology.

The study found that all the beer-fed animals were less prone to arrhythmia or a disturbed heartbeat rhythm during an ischemic attack. These animals also had lower oxidative stress and a higher HDL-antioxidant capacity than the animals that had no beer intake. The study concluded that "overall cardiac performance was improved in beer-fed animals regardless of the dose or alcoholic content." Beer was also thought to reduce oxidative stress, activate RISK components and generally improved global cardiac performance.

Heart Health Benefits from Other Alcoholic Drinks
Similar Harvard research, published recently by the European Heart Journal, followed 2,000 men who had suffered a heart attack between 1986 and 2006. The research looked into the connection between alcoholic intake and life expectancy after surviving a heart attack. The researchers followed up on the men 20 years after their first heart attack. In the interim, 468 men had died. However, what the study highlighted was that men who regularly drank two alcoholic drinks a day were 42% less likely to die from heart disease-related causes. They were also 14% less likely to die of other causes, making an interesting connection between moderate drinking and heart health.

The researchers also looked at those who were considered moderate drinkers before the heart attack, and continued to drink in moderation after their attack. They showed a better long-term prognosis for living longer than those who quit drinking after their heart attack. However, those who drank more than two drinks per day after suffering a heart attack showed an increase in mortality risk, once again emphasizing the health benefits of drinking alcohol, but only in moderation.

Moderate drinking was defined as two bottles or cans of beer, two shots of spirits or two small glasses of wine per day. Increasing alcoholic consumption beyond this average was found to increase the death risk to the same level as non-drinkers. Binge drinking was found to totally cancel out any health benefits of drinking alcohol at all.


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