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Move over wine: Beer can be good for heart health too

Kathleen Blanchard's picture
Meta-analysis shows beer overlaps wine for heart health

Wine is known to be good for heart health, but for people who enjoy a cold glass of brewed hops, here’s some good news: A new study shows beer can also be good for the heart.

In the study, conducted at Research Laboratories at the Fondazione di Ricerca e Cura "Giovanni Paolo II", in Campobasso, Italy, researchers concluded both beer and wine have cardiovascular health benefits – when consumed in moderation that is.

For their study, the authors performed a meta-analysis of articles retrieved through March 2011 by PubMed and EMBASE.

In 16 studies, the researchers found 21 g of wine a day lowers the risk of heart disease. When they looked at beer consumptions and cardiovascular risks, they found the same relationship from 43 g of alcohol.

According to Simona Costanzo, first author of the paper – “we considered wine and beer separately: you first observe a reduction in cardiovascular risk with low to moderate drinking.

The interesting part of our research is that, among the studies selected for this meta-analysis, there were 12 in which wine and beer consumption could be compared directly. Using these data we were able to observe that the risk curves for the two beverages are closely overlapping".

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In the study, the heart healthy benefits of beer disappeared with high consumption – a point emphasized by Augusto Di Castelnuovo, head of the Statistic Unit of Research Laboratories and a pioneer in alcohol epidemiological studies.

Di Castelnuovo says drinking alcohol is part of a lifestyle. Wine and beer should be enjoyed with the right foods, or with family and friends, which also promote health and happiness.

Giovanni de Gaetano, director of Research Laboratories at Fondazione "Giovanni Paolo II" – is part of a concept that our group strongly pursues: to look at people's real life. Health and disease are conditions deriving from our lifestyle.

New therapies, new drugs, are extremely important. But a healthy life, with a strong attitude toward prevention, is the key element of the medicine in the years to come"

Not everyone should start drinking beer (or wine) for the heart benefits though. Young women may increase their risk of breast cancer, suggested in past studies; counteracting the positive health effects of drinking alcohol.

The new study, published in the European Journal of Epidemiology, shows beer – consumed in moderation and combined with healthy foods – rivals wine for heart health.

DOI: 10.1007/s10654-011-9631-0
“Wine, beer or spirit drinking in relation to fatal and non-fatal cardiovascular events: a meta-analysis”
Simona Costanzo, et al.
November, 2011

Image credit: Morguefile