“Can Alcohol Really Protect Your Heart?”
A study has suggested that drinking alcohol
every day may cut the risk of heart disease in men by more than a third.
But the research has come under fire from scientists who say the study
is flawed and should not encourage anyone to drink more.
The controversial study found that men
who drank moderate, high and very high levels of alcohol had a lower
risk of coronary heart disease.
Heavy drinking can damage organs and
lead to early death. According to the World Health Organization, 76
million of the estimated 2 billion people in the world who drink alcohol
suffer ill health as a result, and alcohol causes around 1.8 million
deaths every year.
Reuters November 18, 2009
BBC News November 18, 2009
Dr. Mercola's Comments:
I think this is a good example of bad
science. And by that I mean, it’s not wise to ignore the big picture
when it comes to health. Because, despite being widely promoted as healthy
in small quantities (especially red wine), the health risks of alcoholic
drinks outweigh the benefits.
Alcohol is simply not good for you, in
any quantity, in the long run.
This study, however, takes the “healthy
drinking” advice to a whole new level. They actually concluded
that those who drank in excess of 90 grams of alcohol a day –
any type of alcohol – reduced their risk of heart disease by an
average of 50 percent. (No significant effect was seen in women.)
90 grams of alcohol, mind you, equates
to around a dozen mixed drinks a day… or just over a bottle of
wine daily. It is hard to believe that any responsible professional
could provide this recommendation as the negative ramifications of this
type of heavy drinking will clearly outweigh any perceived heart disease
reduction there might be.
Personally, I’m inclined to agree
with those who point out the flaws in this study. Something does not
add up, and I certainly hope this piece of research does not end up
being used as justification to continue indulging in a dangerous and
According to the World Health Organization
(WHO), alcohol consumption causes around 1.8 million premature deaths
each year, and anyone who believes that you can be healthy and chug
up to a dozen drinks a day is fooling themselves.
The Many Dangers of Alcohol
Alcohol is a neurotoxin that can poison
your brain. It can also disrupt your hormonal balance. For example,
consuming large amounts of wine or other alcoholic beverages will increase
your insulin levels, which will eventually have a negative impact on
In addition to that, excessive drinking
can contribute to several types of cancer, including cancer of the:
Mouth, larynx and esophagus
Also, if you drink too much you’ll have to deal with hangover
symptoms, which are caused by acetaldehyde, a chemical that alcohol
breaks down into. This chemical has toxic effects on many tissues and
organs in your body, and it can also cause mental and emotional disturbances.
Other health problems caused by alcohol,
which definitely detract from any claims of health benefits, include:
Reduces your body’s ability to
handle stress -- Alcohol exposure can result in abnormally low levels
of your key stress hormone, corticotropin-releasing factor (CRF). CRF
is produced by your hypothalamus and helps trigger your body's reaction
Rats exposed to a stressor, such as an
injected toxin or light electric shock, have shown a blunted stress
response -- a reduced reaction in their hormonal and nervous systems
-- if they were first exposed to alcohol.
An impaired stress response is believed
to affect several body systems, including the ability of your immune
system to fight infection, and of brain cells to learn and remember.
Increases your allergic reactions –
According to scientists in Spain, there’s a link between moderate
alcohol consumption and an increase in antibodies found at high levels
in people prone to develop allergies.
These antibodies, known as IgE antibodies,
cause allergic symptoms by overreacting to generally harmless substances
inhaled from the air such as pollen, mold or animal dander.
Therefore, if you drink moderate amounts
of alcohol you are more likely to develop an allergic reaction to something.
Where Do the Benefits of Alcohol Consumption
Come From Then?
With all these damaging influences, it
may seem odd that low alcohol consumption is widely accepted as having
One of the main keys to account for this
discrepancy is likely one specific ingredient: resveratrol.
This powerful antioxidant found in grape
skins, and hence red wine, belongs to a family of compounds known as
polyphenols, which combat damaging free radicals in your body.
Resveratrol can lower your "bad"
LDL cholesterol while raising "good" HDL cholesterol, and
can decrease the production of a protein that plays a major role in
your development of heart disease.
Interestingly, the study above did not
just measure red wine consumption, but all types of alcoholic beverages,
so resveratrol cannot fully explain the alleged benefits found. However,
I still believe there are flaws in the self reporting of the study that
led to an incorrect conclusion.
That said, resveratrol is generally believed
to be the beneficial ingredient that gives red wine its health benefits
– when consumed in moderation; about a glass or two a day.
I, however, still believe that even low
consumption of red wine can do more harm than good, simply because of
its alcohol content. Fortunately, you can still get the benefits of
resveratrol without the alcohol.
The Health Benefits of Resveratrol
Resveratrol is unique among antioxidants
because it can cross the blood-brain barrier to help protect your brain
and nervous system, and studies show that its benefits are wide reaching,
Protecting your cells from free radical
Inhibiting the spread of cancer, especially prostate cancer
Lowering your blood pressure
Keeping your heart healthy and improving elasticity in your blood vessels
Normalizing your anti-inflammatory response
Helping to prevent Alzheimer’s disease
Because resveratrol appears to be so effective at warding off many diseases
associated with aging, it is often referred to as a “fountain
of youth” that can extend lifespan.
Resveratrol actually appears to produce
many benefits similar to exercise, including lowering insulin levels,
which is a key to fighting disease and staying young. Naturally, I do
NOT suggest you replace exercise with resveratrol. But I do suspect
it can be a powerful addition to exercise, and I personally take resveratrol
because of this belief.
If you are interested in trying out some
resveratrol for yourself, there are numerous products already on the
market. Just be sure to look for one made from muscadine grapes that
uses WHOLE grape skins and seeds, as this is where many of the benefits
Do You Drink Too Much?
Most alcohol misuse and abuse stems from
deep emotional challenges. Addressing these issues at a deep level is
imperative to avoid the negative health consequences--both physical
and mental--that inevitably result from excessive drinking.
Meridian Tapping Techniques (MTT) is
an energy psychology tool that can help resolve these types of underlying
problems. This psychological acupressure technique is routinely used
in my clinic and it works better than any other traditional or alternative
method I am currently aware of.
However, if you try the technique yourself
and find that you are not improving, consider consulting a trained MTT
therapist to facilitate the process. You can find a list of qualified
MTT practitioners near you at this link. For more information, feel
free to review Pat Carrington’s site TappingCentral.
Posted by: Dr. Mercola