Latest scientific news 27 September 2016

Harvard researchers report on long-term outcomes of alcohol consumption from the Nurses’ Health Study I and II

Drinking patterns count. One of the most comprehensive studies on alcohol intake and health outcomes showed greater benefits among individuals who drink smaller amounts more frequently than those who  consumed the same amount on only 1-2 days per week. Evaluating the overall balance of risks and benefits of moderate a moderate intake of alcoholic beverages, the all-cause mortality risk was lower among light and moderate drinking women.

Some of the most comprehensive and detailed data on alcohol and health outcomes have been coming from the Harvard-University based Nurses’ Health Studies (I and II). Detailed information on self-reported alcohol drinking patterns are obtained approximately every 4 years combined with extensive information on diet, lifestyle habits, and physician-diagnosed health conditions. Now, the alcohol researcher group from Harvard just published a narrative review of the NHS (1980-2012) and NHS II (1989-2011) data on alcohol and health. Combined, the NHS data/results show that moderate intake of alcoholic beverages, defined as up to 1 drink a day, is associated with a lower risk of hypertension, myocardial infarction, stroke, sudden cardiac death, gallstones, cognitive decline, and all-cause mortality. The authors conclude that even though, moderate drinking appears to increase the risk of colon and breast cancer, these risks are then counterbalanced by the boost in cardiovascular health, especially in middle age and older women, when CVD accounts for an increasingly large share of disease and death. The results further indicate greater health benefits for moderate and more frequent drinkers compared to abstainers. The type of alcoholic beverage did not strongly modify the risk of chronic disease.

Mostofsky E, Mukamal KJ, Giovannucci EL, et al. Key Findings on Alcohol Consumption and a Variety of Health Outcomes From the Nurses’ Health Study. Am J Public Health. 2016;106(9):1586-91

For more information about this article, read the scientific abstract here.