Monday 10 December 2018

Alcohol can 'help those with heart disease risk' but should be avoided by people with a family history of cancer - new study

Lead author Dr Sarah Hartz said it may be helpful to advise people at risk of heart disease to drink occasionally but encourage those susceptible to cancer to avoid it altogether. Stock picture
Lead author Dr Sarah Hartz said it may be helpful to advise people at risk of heart disease to drink occasionally but encourage those susceptible to cancer to avoid it altogether. Stock picture

Sarah Knapton

Alcohol may be helpful for people at risk of heart disease, but should be avoided by people with a family history of cancer, a new study suggests.

Researchers at the University of Washington studied datasets from 400,000 people, some of whom have been monitored since the 1950s, to find out if the amount of alcohol they drank weekly was linked to dying early or prolonging life.

They discovered that drinking one or two drinks daily increased the risk of premature death by 20pc, compared with drinking three times a week or less. However, there were heart benefits for people who had just a few glasses a week, lowering their risk of early death from cardiovascular disease by around 25pc compared to those who drank nothing, while only raising cancer risk by around 8pc.

Lead author Dr Sarah Hartz said it may be helpful to advise people at risk of heart disease to drink occasionally but encourage those susceptible to cancer to avoid it altogether.

"Consuming one or two drinks about four days per week seemed to protect against cardiovascular disease, but drinking every day eliminated those benefits," she said.

"Drinking four days, one to two drinks, may be helpful for people concerned about coronary heart disease but not who are concerned about cancer.

"With regard to cancer risk, any drinking at all was detrimental. If you tailor medical recommendations to an individual person, there may be situations under which you would think that occasional drinking potentially could be helpful. But overall, I do think people should no longer consider a glass of wine a day to somehow be healthy."

Irish Independent

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