Rest assured that you can enjoy a drink or two with your friends!

A new study published in the British Medical Journal on 22 March 2017 confirms that moderate alcohol consumption is associated with a lower risk of coronary heart disease, fatal and non-fatal cardiovascular disease, as well as all-cause mortality risk compared with non-drinkers.

In comparison to moderate drinkers (as defined by the “old” UK drinking guidelines), the risk of coronary heart disease, fatal cardiovascular disease and all-cause mortality was 31%, 32%, and 24% respectively higher for non-drinkers.  The authors conclude: “This large scale study of 1.93 million adults without cardiovascular disease at baseline showed that moderate drinking is associated with a lower risk of initial presentation with several, but not all, cardiovascular diseases, even after separation of groups of non-drinkers”.  This conclusion refers to the 12 most common cardiovascular diseases and the risk associations for various categories: non-drinkers, former, occasional, moderate, and heavy drinkers.  For all instances, moderate drinkers faced a lower risk compared to abstainers, only heavy drinkers had an even lower risk of some cardiovascular disease types than moderate drinkers.

The analysis is based on a population representative cohort of almost 2 million UK adults (age 30+) and takes the so-called “sick quitter / former drinker” issue into account.  However, it relies on self-reported alcohol consumption, which is often underreported.  Therefore, the identified J-curve may shift to the right!

To conclude, this large-scale UK study refutes recent theories that the cardioprotective effect attributed to moderate drinking in earlier studies was due to misclassification error; appears to provide sound evidence of the existence of the J-curve that is consistent with several decades of epidemiological research, and adds new information about the association between drinking and certain less common cardiovascular diseases.