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I'm sure once in your lifetime you have heard that there are health benefits associated with drinking alcohol.  So called "researchers" claim that alcohol is good for the heart.  But time and time again studies have debunked this theory and show that alcohol does just the opposite, it raises blood pressure and greatly increases the risk for a heart attack or stroke.  Just makes you wonder how much money alcohol companies pay these researchers to make these bogus reports so they can promote their product that kills people.   


Deceptions in Reporting the Alcohol Benefit -   When the media reports a study showing alcohol consumption as health benefit by decreasing risk of a heart attack, I would encourage the reading of the original study and the editorial comments to get an accurate assessment. In the New England Journal of Medicine (January 9, 2003), there was a study that attributed alcohol use to a reduced risk of a heart attack. In the editorial comments in this same issue, by Ira J. Goldberg, MD, there were some revealing facts about this study that were not mentioned in the media. Those in the non-alcoholic group had less physical activity, smoked,  lower vitamin E intake, more diabetes, a higher intake of trans-and saturated fat and most importantly some had a past history of drinking, some of them heavily, before quitting. Also Dr. Goldberg wondered if the alcohol-consuming groups might have other lifestyle factors associated with reduced risk. He said, “not everything fits,” as alcohol does not reliably reduce arteriosclerosis in animals.  The toxic effect of alcohol is well established, whereas the data on alcohol and cardiovascular disease is not.  Another media report said that wine was associated with better lung function. However, the researchers in this study attributed the improvement to the antioxidants in the wine, not the actual wine itself and not the alcohol, and they warned of the harms of the alcohol in the wine. In fact, valid studies show that wine consumption makes the lung liable to injury and increases the risk of allergic reactions. These following facts are also missing from media reports: in 2000, our government declared alcoholic beverages to be a class “A” human carcinogen, along with arsenic and asbestos.

Upon further investigation, only 27% of the nondrinkers said they had never been drinkers and 27% provided no information about their past drinking or non-drinking habits. The vast majority of alcoholics are smokers -- who very often continue to smoke while abstaining from alcohol. This would also be true of non-alcoholic ex-drinkers who stopped drinking because of health problems.  Not surprisingly, the investigators discovered that the lifelong teetotalers among the nondrinkers had lower rates of smoking. Additionally, even among the nondrinkers who did not have a previous history of drinking there may have been those who did not drink because of concern about interaction with prescription drugs.

The February 1998 issue of the journal ADDICTION contains a research report which greatly advanced the study of the relationship between alcohol consumption and mortality. It was probably also larger than previous studies because it pooled the results of the best available previous studies [ADDICTION 93(2):183-229 (1998)].

Unlike many previous studies which have a single category for non-drinkers, this study carefully distinguished between former drinkers and long-term abstainers. Using this distinction, the reputed reduced mortality risk for light drinkers over long-term abstainers was disproven for both men and women.

In the case of males, the confounding effect of grouping former drinkers with long-term abstainers was particularly illuminating. Five statistically significant differences were seen between the two groups. Compared to long-term abstainers, former male drinkers were more likely to be: (1) heavy smokers (2) marijuana users (3) unemployed (4) depressed and (5) less well educated.

High Blood Pressure/Stroke/Heart Attack- Alcohol destroys a vital enzyme necessary for muscle contraction when ingested in any quantity. It is also risky for people with heart problems to drink at all since alcohol can reduce cardiac output.
{in the book, “Guidelines to Safe Drinking,” Nicolas Pace, MD, 1984}

Alcohol inhibits enzymes needed for heart contraction. Alcohol use is associated with deleterious effects on virtually every part of the body. Eliminating alcohol can reduce the symptoms of heart failure and improve the quality of your life.
{Alcohol Health and Research World, 1989, and Dept. of Health and Human Services, 1990}

Alcohol interferes with calcium absorption which is needed for heart contraction, so it is likely to impair the strength of the heart muscle.
{Alcohol Health and Research World, 1990, U.S. Dept. of Health and Human Services}

Alcohol makes every kind of irregular heart rhythm worse, says Paul Hopkins, MD, doctor of internal medicine, University of Utah, Cardiovascular Genetics Research Center in Salt Lake City. Eliminate alcohol and you may be able to reduce or prevent symptoms of palpitations.
{“Getting Healthy Now,” book by Gary Null, 1999 -}

Low to moderate doses of alcohol cause blood vessels within muscles to constrict, while causing those at the surface of the skin to dilate. Blood cannot reach the muscles where it is needed and performance is diminished.
{Health and Human Services, pamphlet no. (CDC) 89-8414, DHHS publication} 
Editor's comment: The heart is a muscle.

The adverse effects of alcohol on the heart muscle, or myocardium, have been known since the 1700's, and although the reason is unclear, acetaldehyde (the first product of alcohol oxidation), may induce myocardial damage (Screiber et al.). Alcohol has been shown to diminish myocardial protein synthesis (Bing).
{"Role of Alcohol in the Diseases of the Liver," - September 2002}

High Blood Pressure

One in four adult Americans has high blood pressure.
{Reader’s Digest, “High Blood Pressure,” Jan. 1996}

High blood pressure can be triggered by alcohol consumption.
{Family Guide to Stroke, Heart Association, 1994, and Nutrition Action Health Letter, April 1998}

Alcohol consumption at any level significantly increases the risk of stroke, especially in women. Medical studies show that those with high blood pressure who drink alcohol should stop consumption because doing so results in a decrease in blood pressure. Men are more susceptible than women to the high blood pressure effect of alcohol.
{"The Effects of Alcohol on the Heart," Alcohol Research Center, LSUHSC, August 2002}


Even light drinking can double the risk of hemorrhagic strokes.

To reduce stroke risk, lower triglycerides as well as cholesterol. According to the Dec. 11, 2002 issue of Circulation, high triglycerides raise your risk of stroke, independent of your cholesterol levels.
{Mt. Sinai School of Medicine, Focus on Healthy Aging newsletter, February 2002}  
Editor's comment: Even small amounts of alcohol increase triglycerides.

 Alcohol seems to interfere with the liver’s ability to metabolize hormones, such as renin and angiotensin, which are important for maintaining blood pressure control. There is also some evidence that alcohol interferes with steroid production which is instrumental in maintaining blood pressure.{Washington Post Health, Feb. 10, 1987}Eliminate alcohol, as regular alcohol use correlates with elevated blood pressure. Alcohol taxes the liver and reduces the ability to detoxify blood, thus causing more oxidizing and damaging substances to remain in circulation where they can harm blood vessels. Further, if the liver is busy processing alcohol, it is less able to process fats, leading to elevated cholesterol levels. If the liver becomes congested, stagnation in the portal veins, those that deliver blood to the liver, can increase blood pressure in all other vessels downstream.{ JAMA 1985 study in Nutrition Science News, March 1999}Studies suggest that regular consumption of alcohol raises blood pressure during the hours that alcohol is not consumed, and can reduce magnesium levels which can increase blood pressure. {U.S. Dept. of Health and Human Services in their 10th Report to Congress on Alcohol and Health. 2000}Limited accuracy because this survey only covered the diets of the 17,000 adults for the previous 24 hours. This is how the media can manipulate figures and report that blood pressure is reduced by the use of alcohol. Two Japanese studies from Alcohol: Clinical Experience and Research, have shown that even modest amounts of alcohol consumption can lead to an increase in blood pressure. This effect is more pronounced in older men. According to the CDC, almost one in four Americans has high blood pressure, but many don't know it because often there are no symptoms. More than 17,000 people die from complications of this disorder each year.{"Teetotaling Best for Blood Pressure," - July 2002} A study in the journal “Circulation” found that alcohol can impair the body’s ability to maintain a steady blood pressure. After drinking alcohol, people have wider blood vessels and lower blood pressure, and these changes impair the body’s ability to pump fresh blood to the brain, says Dr. Virend K. Somers, a co-author of the study. As a result, drinkers who suddenly stood up often felt lightheaded and sometimes fainted.{ - May 2000}Both alcohol use and stress appear to increase blood pressure, in addition, stress is associated with increased alcohol use. When stressed, a person is motivated to drink in an effort to cope with negative feelings, which in turn are made worse by alcohol use. Both systolic and diastolic blood pressure were higher among daily drinkers than those who drank only once a week, which significantly increased risk of stroke and coronary disease.{Russell et al. 1991}{“Alcohol Research and Health,” Journal of the NIAAA, Department of Health and Human Services, 1999}Lowering blood pressure can reduce the chance of stroke by as much as a third (ischemic and hemorrhagic stroke}{Published in July 2000 in JAMA - five year study of 4,736 older men and women -}High blood pressure raises the risk for stroke and heart disease. One recent study linked it to Alzheimer’s, too.{“Simple Ways to Curb Memory Loss and Preserve Brain power,” Bottom Line Health newsletter, April 2001}Younger men should be just as concerned about high blood pressure as middle-aged and older men because it puts them at significant risk of dying from cardiovascular diseases such as heart attacks and strokes later in life, says a study from Northwestern University Medical School study in the Archives of Internal Medicine.


Media Bias in Reporting Risks of Alcohol Use - When reporting studies, the media often minimizes any risks while maximizing or exaggerating any possible benefits, or omits important information given by the researchers, which influences the public to think of alcohol as healthy. The public deserves better balanced, more responsible reporting. To help you balance the media’s pro-alcohol reporting, I would suggest reading other subjects relating to the dangers of light and moderate alcohol use on this Web site, for example:  The Effect of One Alcoholic Drink  or  Health Benefits of Alcohol Questioned.hormone cortisol, a marker for Depression.{"Diabetes/Depression Link," Dangerous Combo, Prevention magazine, Feb. 2002} Author's comments: This looks like a triple whammy as alcohol is a negative for depression, diabetes and elevated blood sugar,  Alcohol, like tobacco, is a drug and no less dangerous because it is legal. Light or moderate alcohol consumption is harmful, just as light or moderate use of tobacco is harmful. There are safer, more effective, and longer lasting ways to improve or maintain one’s health, such as exercise, proper diet and meditation.  Alcohol can also weaken or loosen the sphincter which allows the stomach contents to flow back into the esophagus, resulting in GERD, and can cause leaky gut syndrome. The resulting chronic indigestion from the use of alcohol can contribute to pre-existing heart problems.People who are overweight are at risk for incontinence. {American Urogynecologic Society. Oct. 2002}  Author’s comment: Alcohol use is a negative for both. Some 60 to 70 million Americans suffer from digestive diseases, and in a single year they spend $107 billion on drugs and antacids to fight them. Pharmaceuticals, however, are not the answer. Interference with digestion can lead to chronic fatigue, premature aging, arthritis, poor skin and hair, toxicity, allergies and cancer. Alcohol can change the colon's pH, destroying beneficial bacteria.{"Probiotics Balance Digestion and Improve Overall Health," - July 2001}Digestion must occur before the body can extract energy from the foods you eat. For this to happen, food must be chemically acted upon by stomach acid, hormones, pancreatic enzymes and fat emulsifiers, as well as by the mechanical process that propels food through the entire length of the digestive tract. Most of the foods commonly eaten in our society are hard to digest - foods that are high in saturated fats, sugars, and animal protein - other foods stress the body through their toxicity. Some foods, like alcohol, have a toxic effect that damages the cells and affects their ability to function, and both alcohol and sugar promote the growth of pathological organisms like candida, which can worsen fatigue. Alcohol is particularly toxic to the liver, brain, and nervous system. {"Foods To Avoid Or Limit," Susan Lark, MD, excerpted from "The Women's Health Companion," - Feb. 2002}



Researchers: Alcohol Consumption Shrinks Brain-

Johns Hopkins Study Debunks Stroke Prevention Claim

POSTED: 3:39 p.m. CST December 4, 2003

UPDATED: 3:53 p.m. CST December 4, 2003 CHICAGO -- Researchers at Johns Hopkins University have found that alcohol consumption shrinks the brain.  An NBC5 HealthWatch report said the researchers claim the shrinkage can begin with as little as one drink per week. The researchers used brain scans on nearly 2,000 people who are 55 years old or older.

Those who drank between one and ten alcoholic drinks per week had brain shrinkage, even after all other potential causes were ruled out. At the same time, the study found no support for the notion that drinking helps the heart and prevents strokes.



Drinking Alcohol and Blood Pressure

From Buddy T,
Your Guide to Alcoholism / Substance Abuse.
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Even Small Amounts Can Increase Hypertension

Even modest alcohol consumption can cause blood pressure to increase, according to two recent studies conducted in Japan.

Dr. Noriyuki Nakanishi, from the department of social and environmental medicine at Osaka University Graduate School of Medicine in Japan, lead author of the first study, concluded that "Alcohol use represents an important modifiable risk factor for hypertension."

Previous research has demonstrated some health benefits for those who drink small amounts of alcohol, but the two new studies indicate that even very low alcohol consumption can be a health risk for many.
The first study involved more than 5,000 Japanese male office workers, between the ages of 23 and 59, for more than four years.

Researchers observed that as the alcohol consumption rate went up, so did blood pressure. In the 12 grams to 22 grams per day group, systolic blood pressure went up 1.4 points in those between the ages of 25 and 35, but increased 5.4 points for men between the ages of 48 and 59, indicating that drinking affects older persons more.

In the second of the two studies, researchers from Kyushu University followed more than 1,100 people over 40 for 10 years. During that study, 101 men and 106 women developed hypertension with the risk of developing hypertension higher for both men and women who drank, even those who drank less than 23 grams daily.

More than 17,000 people die each year from high blood pressure complications in the U.S. and almost one in four Americans has high blood pressure, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Hypertension can cause stroke, heart disease and kidney failure.

Study: Wine’s Cardio Benefits Unclear When Lifestyle Accounted For

By Adam Daley
Researchers seeking understand once-and-for-all if wine drinkers have a lower risk of cardiovascular problems have found that associated lifestyle habits and environmental factors of wine consumers largely explained their better health outcomes.
The study appears in the Journal of Studies on Alcohol and Drugs.
Previous studies have indicated that polyphenols and other constituents present in wine and some beers protect against a few cardiovascular risk factors, however they have been inconsistent in showing that benefit after adjustment for all associated lifestyle factors.
Researchers examined the level of wine consumption and total mortality among 802 adults aged 55–65 over a 20-year period, controlling for key sociodemographic, behavioral, and health status factors. When they controlled only for overall ethanol consumption, subjects who drank less wine showed a substantially increased 20-year mortality risk of 85 percent.  However, after controlling for all lifestyle attributes, the initial mortality difference associated with wine consumption was no longer significant.
According to the study, led by Charles J. Holahan, PhD, from the University of Texas, wine consumers, especially in comparison with spirits drinkers, have been shown to have higher levels of education and income, to consume a healthier diet, be more physically active, and have other characteristics that are associated with better health outcomes.
The International Scientific Forum on Alcohol Research reviewed the results, noting the study fails to assess alcohol consumption and covariates after baseline, and changes that may have occurred during the 20-year observation period are not accounted for.

Alcohol’s benefits debunked: Heart researchers review findings

Researchers from Canada, USA, and Australia have together produced a meta-analysis of 54 published studies, regarding drinking, and death from all causes and from coronary heart disease (CHD).

The report found that many of the previous prospective studies have failed to distinguish between former drinkers and persons who never were drinkers.

This systematic error was used to support the hypothesis that alcohol use (by older users) reduces CHD risk.

Research actually showed: no evidence of alcohol helping heart

The researchers found that the few studies without this error showed no evidence of health benefits.

People may abstain because they are sick—they are not sick because they abstain.

The new study supports an early researcher’s idea that an apparent benefit is merely due to a ‘reduction or termination of drinking in older people due to increased illness, disability, frailty and/or medication use.’

Kaye M. Fillmore, William C. Kerr, Tim Stockwell, Tanya Chikritzhs, Alan Bostrom, 2006, ‘Moderate alcohol use and reduced mortality risk: Systematic error in prospective studies’,

Besides, researchers from Brazil found that in certain populations, drinking is not even statistically associated with lower coronary heart disease. They questioned ‘whether the cardioprotective effect of alcohol is real or may be confounded by lifestyle characteristics of drinkers.’

Flávio D. Fuchs, Lloyd E. Chambless, Aaron R. Folsom, Marsha L. Eigenbrodt, Bruce B. Duncan, Adam Gilbert, Moyses Szklo, 1 Sep. 2004, ‘Association between Alcoholic Beverage Consumption and Incidence of Coronary Heart Disease in Whites and Blacks’, American Journal of Epidemiology, Vol. 160, No. 5, pp. 466-474,

Again, researchers (after excluding certain confounding factors) have associated drinking with greater risk of future heart disease. ‘In conclusion, our findings add to the emerging evidence that binge drinking is associated with higher rates of cardiovascular disease...’ ‘Surprisingly, our findings also raise the possibility that even moderate alcohol consumption could have proatherogenic effects among young adults.’

Mark J. Pletcher, Paul Varosy, Catarina I. Kiefe, Cora E. Lewis, Stephen Sidney, Stephen B. Hulley, 1 Mar. 2005, ‘Alcohol Consumption, Binge Drinking, and Early Coronary Calcification: Findings from the Coronary Artery Risk Development in Young Adults (CARDIA) Study’, American Journal of Epidemiology, Vol. 161, No. 5, pp. 423-433,

American Heart Association cautions: ‘NOT to start drinking’

Why should anyone be told to start drinking under the illusion of heart disease prevention?

Alcohol is known to increase the danger of: ‘alcoholism, high blood pressure, obesity, stroke, breast cancer, suicide and accidents.’ ‘the American Heart Association cautions people NOT to start drinking...’

American Heart Association, ‘Alcohol, Wine and Cardiovascular Disease’,

Posted 30 January 2006 - 11:14 AM



Alcohol benefits debunked

Other studies show wine can help the heart

Moderate alcohol consumption has no positive effect on health - contrary to a number of studies - while heavy drinking doubles men's chances of dying from a stroke, research has found.

The large-scale study took place over 21 years, and while it confirmed that binge drinking is extremely bad for health, it contradicted studies showing reduced levels of heart disease among people who regularly drink a little.

There was no significant increase in the risk of heart disease among those drinking most, but men who drank more than 35 units - or 17 pints of beer - of alcohol a week had more than double the chance of dying from a stroke.

The Stroke Association, which funded the study, said the findings should raise awareness of the connection between alcohol and strokes, particularly among the young.

International pattern

Professor George Davey Smith, of the department of social medicine at Bristol University, was a co-author of the paper, which appears in the British Medical Journal.

"We didn't find any benefit or any harm in low-level regular drinking," he told BBC News Online.

"What we did find was that people who were drinking most had more than twice the mortality from stroke, which is not an inconsiderable effect."

He said the findings tied in with international studies that found that men in Finland who regularly drank enough to suffer a hangover and men in Russia who went binge-drinking had higher death rates.

"The bottom line is that binge drinking is not good for one."

Long-term study

The team studied 5,766 men from various workplaces in Glasgow, Clydebank and Grangemouth over a 21-year period.

Heart disease was the same for all
For non-drinkers and moderate drinkers - up to 14 units of alcohol a week - the risk of any cause of death was similar.

This was regardless of whether they drank beer, wine, or spirits.

However, people who drank more than 22 units a week - the equivalent of 11 pints of beer a week or half a bottle of wine a day - increased their chances of dying with every drink.

Many of the heavy drinkers in the study also smoked and had poor diets, but the researchers adjusted their findings for to take these factors into account.

Statistical U-turn

They explained that earlier studies may have shown improved health among moderate drinkers simply through a statistical quirk.

Many of the previous studies had shown results in the form of a U graph, with moderate drinkers having the lowest death rates, while heavy and non-drinkers had the highest.

However, such figures could be skewed because sick people are more likely to be non-drinkers - they do not drink because they are ill, rather than being ill because they do not drink.

International study questions health benefits of moderate drinking

Previous analyses did not account for effects of age and illness that may make abstainer groups appear to have higher death rates than drinkers

The majority of studies suggesting that "moderate" drinking helps prevent heart disease may be flawed, according to an international research group.

In a new report, researchers from the U.S., Canada, and Australia analyze 54 studies that linked how much people drink with risk of premature death from all causes, including heart disease. Researchers from the University of Victoria in British Columbia and the University of California, San Francisco led the team.

The researchers investigated a suggestion put forth in the scientific community that many of the studies conducted so far on drinking and premature death made a consistent and serious error by including as "abstainers" people who had cut down or quit drinking due to declining health, frailty, medication use or disability. When such studies show a higher death rate for abstainers than for moderate drinkers, this result may reflect the poor health of some abstainers who recently quit drinking rather than indicating a protective effect for alcohol.

The team found only seven studies that included only long-term non-drinkers in the "abstainers" group. The results of the seven studies showed no reduction in risk of death among the moderate drinkers compared with abstainers. When the researchers combined the data from these studies, they showed that it was possible to perform new analyses that appeared to show a protective effect of moderate drinking--but only when they deliberately included the error of combining long-term abstainers with people who had cut down or quit drinking more recently.

The authors caution that their report, published online in advance of the May 2006 issue of Addiction Research and Theory, has not disproved the notion that light drinking is good for health, as too few error-free studies have been performed. They suggest, however, that the extent to which these benefits actually translate into longer life may have been exaggerated.

"The widely held belief that light or moderate drinking protects against coronary heart disease has had great influence on alcohol policy and clinical advice of doctors to their patients throughout the world," said Tim Stockwell, PhD, of the Centre for Addictions Research at the University of Victoria. "These findings suggest that caution should be exerted in recommending light drinking to abstainers because of the possibility that this result may be more apparent than real."

"We know that older people who are light drinkers are usually healthier than their non-drinking peers," said Kaye Fillmore, PhD, of the UCSF School of Nursing. "Our research suggests light drinking is a sign of good health, not necessarily its cause. Many people reduce their drinking as they get older for a variety of health reasons."

The authors emphasize that there is a need for more well-designed research in the future that assesses people's alcohol intake and abstinence more precisely as their drinking patterns change with age.


The research that the team analyzed consisted of prospective studies, including hundreds of thousands of individuals who were followed over a number of years. Most studies were from North America and Europe, some from the Caribbean and Asia. The majority of the results were published in the 1980s and 1990s, with one study published in 1974 and one as recently as 2004.

The team investigated this body of research using meta-analysis – a method that synthesizes the results from many different studies to determine if their results are in agreement, statistically significant and the degree to which there is variation in the results of the studies.

Light drinking was defined as having two drinks or fewer per day (or about 30mls of pure alcohol per day) and drinking at least once a month. Moderate drinking was 2 to 4 drinks per day. The effects of other factors that influence health and life expectancy were controlled as far as possible in analysis.

Two parallel analyses were carried out: one for 54 studies evaluating death from all causes including heart disease and the other for 35 studies evaluating heart disease deaths specifically. The two analyses showed similar results. Moderate drinking was associated with protection from premature death in the majority of studies -- those containing the "abstainer error." Protection was not found in the few studies without the error, e.g. where moderate drinkers were compared with long-term abstainers.

Previous meta-analyses that combined data from many studies have shown that moderate drinking appeared to have a protective effect against heart disease deaths and against premature death in general. These studies did not address the effect of the "abstainer error." "By ignoring this error, these meta-analyses perpetuated it," Fillmore said.

"In this analysis, every attempt was made to test the proposition of a health benefit more thoroughly than ever before in the past," Fillmore said. "Many other factors may account for the different findings across studies. Fully 57 characteristics of these studies were tested (e.g., smoking, health status, measurement characteristics). None were found to challenge the finding that the 'abstainer' error was responsible for alcohol's apparent protective effect."

Stockwell noted that other diseases and conditions have been found to have a protective effect as a result of the use of alcohol (in contrast to abstaining from alcohol). "It is critical that future research test whether faulty measurement may have contributed to their findings," he said. "Also, it is well to remember that the types of research usually used to find links between lifestyle factors (e.g. diet, exercise, medication use, in addition to alcohol use) and disease later in life have a high potential for error and on their own cannot prove causation."

The authors credit British heart specialist Gerry Shaper, MD, of the Royal Free and University College Medical School in London, England, for first proposing the possibility of an "abstainer error" in the design of prospective studies of the association between alcohol use and heart disease risks.

"This study was performed in the spirit of the tradition that all scientific findings are open to challenge," Fillmore said. "Competing hypotheses, even if unpopular, should be encouraged and tested to be sure that accepted beliefs about health are sound."

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